First Edition: November 8, 2019

The Booker Prize Is Shared By The 12 Black Brits In ‘Girl, Woman, Other’

British author Bernardine Evaristo poses with her book Girl, Woman, Other. She would later win the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction, an honor she shared with Margaret Atwood. Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

British author Bernardine Evaristo poses with her book Girl, Woman, Other. She would later win the 2019 Booker Prize for Fiction, an honor she shared with Margaret Atwood.

Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Bernardine Evaristo’s novel Girl, Woman, Other is just being published in the United States — after being awarded the U.K.’s Booker Prize last month (an honor shared with Margaret Atwood‘s The Testaments).

It follows 12 people, mostly women aged 19-93, whose lives are somewhat interwoven. They’re often introduced with hyphens: There’s Amma, a socialist-lesbian-playwright; and Megan/Morgan, who is nonbinary; and Winsome, an Anglo-Barbadian immigrant and unhappy wife. They’re all black, British and different.

Evaristo, who is Anglo-Nigerian, spoke from London about her book, the diversity of black Britons and sharing the Booker Prize.

“I was very happy to share the Booker because I still won the Booker,” Evaristo says. “I know that some people had issues with it, but I didn’t. It’s such a hard prize to win — you know, it’s been going 50 years. … And if I was going to share it with somebody, who better than Margaret Atwood?”

Interview Highlights

On the characters in Girl, Woman, Other

The youngest, Yazz, is a university student, and the oldest, Hattie, is a farmer in the North of England. And I have women of every generation in between. They have different occupations, different cultural backgrounds — which very much reflects black British presence and history — so some of them have roots in Africa, some of them have roots in the Caribbean. They are different sexualities.

And the book opens with Amma, who is a black, lesbian theater director, and she has a show opening at the National Theatre in London. She has spent nearly 40 years working in theater as a director and writer, and very much on the margins, feeling overlooked, very radical in her politics. Suddenly she’s got this big break … and then the story kind of goes off into all these other stories, and at the end of the novel, we see the show opening and the gathering together of lots of characters in the book.

On seeking to put “presence into absence”

So there are very few black British novels getting published — that’s the truth of it … and people might be able to mention one or two names, but they won’t be able to go much further than that. So there aren’t many of our stories out there, and there are various reasons for this. So when I decided to write this novel, I wanted to put as many black British women into it as possible — to show the heterogeneity of who we are in this society, and to explore us as fully realized, complex, driven, flawed individuals whose stories are worthy of telling as anyone else’s.

On the character Yazz, who is the playwright Amma’s daughter

One of the things that I do with the book is that there are four mother-daughter relationships, and that is always very fertile territory for fiction. So yes, Yazz is 19, she comes from a very black middle-class family. She is actually quite an entitled young woman. She’s very ambitious — you know, she says that she wants to be a journalist with her own column because it’s about time the whole world heard what she had to say.

And I think that when young people are coming into themselves and coming of age, often they do disparage the person who gave birth to them, or their parents. Her mother is a feminist and she raised Yazz to be a strong, feminist daughter. She describes her as her countercultural experiment. But of course, that backfires, because her daughter is very articulate and takes aim at her mother all the time. And for example, her daughter is engaged with issues of gender and nonbinary issues and so on. And she says to her mother: Look, mum, being a woman is so passe. She says: I’m a humanist; that’s who I am now.

On winning the Booker Prize for her eighth book, much as her character Amma has a breakthrough after decades

Who knew that this [novel] would break through in the way it has? In a sense, I think it could have only have broken through at this time, because I think we’re living in a time in the U.K. where there are a couple of movements or moments which have slightly, I think, changed people’s perceptions of who we are in this society. One of them is the #MeToo movement and the other is Black Lives Matter. And they came about, I think, three or four years ago. And since then, there has been this shift in consciousness in terms of how black art and black women’s art is being received in this country. …

And definitely winning the Booker has opened my work up to the world at large. And that has been the most incredible thing. I’m still pinching myself, really, because it’s only been just over 3 weeks. And every so often, I get into a bit of a mood and I think, hmm, start feeling snarly, and I think … You won the Booker! Shut up! You won the Booker! You have no reason to be disgruntled about anything anymore, because your work is out there. And I started in the early ’80s, so we’re talking about a very long time of not being known to the wider world. So I appreciate every moment.

On hyphenated identities

I think it’s important to name us according to how we experience the world. So we — black women for example, black people are — we are experiencing the world as people who are racialized, right. We are experiencing the world as people who are considered female, or if our sexuality is homosexual, whatever. So I think it’s important for us to name the thing that we do. So I’m not at all squeamish, actually, about identifying myself as a black British woman writer, and identifying this book as about black British women (primarily, because most of them are) because that’s what I’m doing. I take inspiration from Toni Morrison who, many years ago, would say: Yeah, I’m an African American women writer, and that’s the perspective from which I write, and there is nothing limiting about that. … Being black British is being as diverse as any other demographic in society.

And just to say: White male writers, for example, I would say most of them are writing from that perspective, and often with white male protagonists. They don’t need to label themselves as such because they are the accepted norm. They are the default, right. I’m not the default. What I’m doing is different. What we’re doing, women of color, is different. And I think it’s very important to identify that for ourselves — and for the reader.

Denise Guerra and Melissa Gray produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Patrick Jarenwattananon adapted it for the Web.

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US city elects first African American mayor, first mayor with physical disability

Home | News | General | US city elects first African American mayor, first mayor with physical disability
Meet Nigerian doctor who first discovered disease in athletes, movie released in his honour
Nigerian Beroro Efekoro wins election, becomes Albany county legislator in New York

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– Tim Adams has been elected as the first African-American mayor of Bowie

– Adams is also the first mayor with a physical disability

– Mayor Adams says his reaction shows that the people of Bowie looked past his physical challenge

Bowie, a city in the US has just voted in its first African-American mayor, Tim Adams. He is also the first person with a physical disability to be elected a mayor.

Bowie, Maryland, is situated in Prince George’s county which is known as the wealthiest Black county in the United States of America.

Adams is the city’s first new mayor in 20 years and also its first Black mayor. The new mayor has been wheelchair-bound after he was involved in accident years back.

US city elects first African American mayor, first mayor with physical disability

Tim Adams is the first African-American mayor of Bowie, he is also the first man with a physical disability to win an election. Photo: WUSA9
Source: UGC

According to WUSA9, Adams reacted to his election thus: “I think being the first Black mayor of Bowie, in particular, is something that is historic. It’s very humbling.”

From porridge seller to aircraft marshaller, meet Felicia Edem (photos)

Speaking on his disability, Adams said: “I think as someone who’s had challenges, being disabled, I think it also shows a lot of character of the people of this city because they look past that.”

Adams is a successful entrepreneur who provides support to customers of the department of defence. He has been a resident of Bowie for 25 years.

US city elects first African American mayor, first mayor with physical disability

US city elects first African American mayor Tim Adams. Photo: BOTWC
Source: UGC

Adams never allowed his disability to stop his dream. Congratulations!

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Meanwhile, Legit.ng had reported that Nigerian Remi Duyile was sworn-in as the first African born commissioner.

Duyile was sworn in on Monday, September 23, as one of the commissioners on the county’s Multicultural Affairs Commission.

HELLO! NAIJ.com (naija.ng) upgrades to Legit.ng We keep evolving to serve our readers better.

What’s special about being a Nigerian? | Legit TV

Bobrisky expresses surprise after Nigerian big boy Mompha was arrested by Interpol for N1.8 billion scam

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Missing some stars, New York auctions push lesser-known artists

A picture taken on November 1, 2019 at Sotheby's in New York shows two paintings, from left, ‘La Baronne de Belamy,’ and ‘Katsuwaka of the Dawn Lagoon’. — AFP pic
A picture taken on November 1, 2019 at Sotheby’s in New York shows two paintings, from left, ‘La Baronne de Belamy,’ and ‘Katsuwaka of the Dawn Lagoon’. — AFP pic

NEW YORK, Nov 9 — New York’s fall auctions will highlight lesser known artists next week as the market searches for diversity amid an absence of works set to make astronomical amounts.

Christie’s set a record price for a living artist during its spring sale this year, two years after selling Leonardo de Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for US$450 million (RM1.9 billion), the most expensive artwork ever sold.

Unless there is an unexpected surge in interest neither Christie’s nor Sotheby’s are likely to get anywhere near the crazy highs that they have set over the past three years this time around.

Instead, the sales, which begin on Monday, are expected to set individual records for artists with lower profiles, with a number of rare works that have never before been offered to the public hitting the auction block.

Auctioneers at Christie’s are particularly excited about Hurting the Word Radio #2 by American pop-art artist Ed Ruscha, who has long lived in the shadow of the movement’s leader, Andy Warhol.

The 1964 painting—considered Ruscha’s best work—is priced between US$30 million and US$40 million.

“The market wants to know it has one of the best paintings which is a change from before when it was more like, ‘Jeff Koons is hot, I have to have a Koons,” said Alex Rotter, chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s.

“Now it’s about, ‘I’d rather have the best Ed Ruscha than an average Warhol,’” he added.

The previous record for a Ruscha, who lives in California, was US$30.4 million for “Smash” which sold at auction in 2014.

Among the other highlights at Christie’s this season is British painter David Hockney’s “Sur la Terrasse”, estimated to go for anywhere between US$25 million and US$45 million.

Hockney

At Sotheby’s the big sales are expected to be “Untitled XXII” by Willem de Kooning, priced between US$25 million and US$35 million, and Mark Rothko’s “Blue Over Red”, which has the same estimate.

A proven selling point is the freshness of a lot of the paintings on offer.

Hockney’s painting, which features the same lover that is in Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) that sold last November at Christie’s for US$90.3 million, has not been publicly exhibited since the early 1970s.

“It’s important to have this fresh material. It’s what generates excitement from buyers,” said Johanna Flaum, head of post-war and contemporary art for Christie’s in New York.

Sotheby’s is on a similar quest. 

This season it is offering “Charing Cross Bridge” by Claude Monet, estimated at between US$20 and US$30 million) and Richard Gallo and his Dog at Petit Gennevilliers by Gustave Caillebotte. 

Neither have been at auction before.

“You can’t even say it made this much 20 years ago. You can’t anchor it to anything and you can’t have any expectations of a ceiling,” said Julian Dawes, head of evening sales at Sotheby’s in New York.

“It’s exciting. There’s going to be price discovery,” he added.

In addition to Ruscha, the Italian Piero Manzoni and France’s Yves Klein, who all rarely make headlines, auction houses are diversifying their offerings.

Women painters, mainly belonging to the abstract expressionist movement, continue their ascent.

‘Transformation’

Lee Krasner’s Sun Woman I sold for US$782,500 in 2011. On Thursday, it could reach ten times that price with a pre-sale estimate of between six and eight million dollars.

“There is an incredible enthusiasm and demand for female artists right now,” said David Galperin a senior vice president at Sotheby’s.

The sales will also feature African-American artists, among whom Jean-Michel Basquiat is no longer the only reference.

This season Charles White and Norman Lewis are expected to set new benchmarks at auction.

Less than a decade ago, they were selling for tens of thousands of dollars but could exceed US$1 million this time. 

“These are reappraisals. We’re in this great moment of transformation right now and I think our sale reflects that,” said Galperin.

Despite the lack of a superstar work of art and the threat of a global economic slowdown, Sotheby’s and Christie’s are entering the week with confidence.

“We keep waiting for it (a downturn) and it doesn’t happen,” said Julian Dawes a Sotheby’s senior vice president.

“I feel a little bit of seller reluctancy in the market,” because they feel they might not get the best price, “but the buyers are there,” said Rotter. — AFP

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Preventing maternal mortality: We have to address the racism first

New standards to address the maternal mortality crisis will go into effect July 2020 and aim to improve how hospitals prevent, identify, and treat maternal hemorrhage and severe pre-eclampsia. Journalists from USA Today and ProPublica have documented this crisis and its impact on every day women. 

Even famous women like Beyonce and Serena Williams survived serious complications with their recent pregnancies, preeclampsia and a pulmonary embolism respectively

Shalon Irving, a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, lieutenant commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Corps, died three weeks after the birth of her daughter from complications from high blood pressure

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Their stories are shared as a way to discuss the high rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. and the even higher rates of maternal mortality experienced by different groups. These three women are African American, and their race matters, but not in the way you might think. It’s racism, not race. 

The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate compared to other high-income countries, 26.4 compared to the next highest countries’ rate of 9.2 per 100,000 births. Some women within the U.S. have maternal mortality rates much higher than the national average.

Black, Native American and Alaska Native women have 3.3 and 2.5 times the pregnancy related mortality rate as white women. These disparities are not fully explained by differences in health status, socio-economic status or patterns of health-care use.  

Three in 5 pregnancy related deaths are preventable. Federal agencies, state health departments, hospitals, and others are taking steps to prevent maternal mortality. There are multiple bills in Congress aimed at improving maternal health. Public health and other health professionals have the opportunity to inform maternal health policy; therefore it is essential we accurately describe the upstream factors that contribute to disparities in maternal mortality. 

Recently I listened to someone with a public health background describe maternal health disparities as affecting “the young, brown, and poor.” After they spoke, an audience member suggested the speaker take more care in how they described disparities.

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Their advice was to avoid making statements that inadvertently reaffirm biases about race and health. I wish I had added my voice to her feedback to say, “it isn’t that they are young, brown and poor, it is the unequal distribution of adverse childhood experiences, educational and job opportunities, and access to health care based on age, race, and class.”

The more we learn about maternal mortality in the U.S., the more we understand how unequal experiences beginning in childhood and occurring over time lead to stress, trauma, health problems. We are learning how access to health care, treatment, and outcomes are unequal. 

For example, one research study found that black and white women had the same rate of 5 pregnancy complications, but black women were 2 to 3 times more likely to die than white women.  

Black women may be receiving care at lower quality hospitals and other research has identified differences in prenatal advice by race. However, other research has Native American and Alaska Native communities are living with the effects of historical trauma and areas with significant Native American populations have shortages of health facilities and health professionals. 

So how should we, public health professionals, talk about race and maternal mortality in order to inform policy? 

If we discuss race, without focusing on social conditions, we are supporting a historical narrative that blames, specifically black and women of color, for health complications during pregnancy. Worse, this uncritical presentation can incorrectly communicate that the disparity in maternal health is genetically or biologically inherent. 

Falsely equating race with biology (and genetics) has been a shameful chapter in Western and U.S. history health and social science. This idea has seen the recent resurgence and it is essential we do not allow this idea to seep into policy efforts to address maternal mortality. 

Legislation to improve delivery of evidence-based practices across hospitals is a good start as are efforts to identify, address, and reduce racial biases in the health-care setting. We should protect key provisions of the Affordable Care Act that prevent health insurance companies from denying women coverage based on pregnancy.  

Looking further upstream another remedy is legislation that extends Medicaid coverage for one-year postpartum to women with eligible for Medicaid based on income or pregnancy or legislation that requires health insurance plans to provide a special enrollment period for pregnancy.  

If we think about and discuss health disparities by race in the big picture and over the life-course, with a focus on racism as a root cause, it is more likely to lead to policies that can more effectively address disparities in maternal health outcomes. 

Bryna Koch is a doctoral candidate in Public Health Policy and Management at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona and a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project.

St. Eugene celebrates African American Catholic History Month

Special to the Democrat Published 11:18 a.m. ET Nov. 8, 2019

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St. Eugene Catholic Mission and Student Center and The African American Catholic Commission-Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee present “Plenty Good Room: A Celebration of African American Catholic History Month.”

You’re invited to participate in a dynamic, spirit-filled experience.

Scheduled Events

Friday, Nov. 8,  7-8:30 p.m.

“Prepare Ye” – Learn new music for Advent. Workshop leader Mr. Kenneth Louis, Minister of Music Ministries at Our Lady of Lourdes in Atlanta.

Saturday, Nov. 9,  9:45 a.m.-3 p.m.

“Sing Alleluia to the Lord” – Learn music for the Liturgy.  

Workshop Presenter: Mr. Kenneth Minister of Music Our Lady of Lourdes—Atlanta.

20+ years as Minister of Music – Kenneth is well known as a performer, lecturer, composer and arranger. Kenneth has served as guest clinician for music workshops for the United States Army in military installations both in the states and abroad. In 1996, Kenneth presented a lecture/demonstration in Paris, France on the European Influence on African-American gospel music at “April in Paris” which was sponsored by the W.E.B. Dubois Center on African-American Studies of Harvard University. 

Saturday, Nov. 9,  7 p.m.

“This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song” – A spirited presentation on the history of Black Catholics and music for the Liturgy composed by African-American composers.

Sunday, Nov. 10, 11 a.m. 

“Plenty Good Room” – Liturgical Celebration: Celebrant/Homilist –Reverend Jeffery Ott, O. P.

Music Minister – Dr. Kenneth Louis, Minister of Music 

 Choir – Music Workshop Participants

Soul food lunch served immediately following Mass

All events will take place at St. Eugene Mission located at 701 Gamble St. For more information, contact Carole Curry at cac4438@hotmail.com  or St. Eugene at 850. 222-6482

Read or Share this story: https://www.tallahassee.com/story/life/faith/2019/11/08/st-eugene-celebrates-african-american-catholic-history-month/2522046001/

Black Fine Arts Month honors DuSable founder

Dana Todd Pope (left to right), Soraya Sheppard, Debra Hand and Dorian Sylvain discuss Margaret Burroughs and fine art during the Salon talk at the DuSable Museum. (Photo by Mrinalini Pandey)

By MRINALINI PANDEY
Contributing writer

As the inaugural Black Fine Arts Month drew to a close at the DuSable Museum of African American History, a lively audience gathered to reminisce during a “Salon Talk” about the legacy of the museum’s founder, Margaret Taylor-Burroughs.

The Salon Talks were a series of weekly gatherings hosted by Pigment Intl. throughout the month, when numerous historians, artists, educators, and journalists were invited to discuss the history of Black fine arts in Chicago.

Artist Dana Todd Pope moderated the Oct. 24 discussion with painter and educator Dorian Sylvain, painter and sculptor Debra Hand, and South-African artist and educator Soraya Sheppard to explain the legacy of Margaret Burroughs and the ways the newer generation can be the torchbearers of her legacy and creators of their own.

Burroughs was a writer, poet, visual artist, educator, and an arts organizer. In 1961, she and her husband created the Ebony Museum of Negro History and Art in the living room of their home in Bronzeville. The museum evolved into the DuSable Museum and moved to its current location at 740 E 56th Place in 1973. Today, it is the oldest independent museum in the country that grew out of the indigenous black community and represents black culture.

Burroughs had a long career as a teacher, a visual artist and a printmaker, but she made unparalleled contributions in showcasing the works of other African American artists.

Panel member Hand who was discovered as an artist by Burroughs. Hand recalled that she had known Burroughs as a little girl when the museum was in her home, and Hand often accompanied her mother, who was Burroughs’ student at the time, to her house.

Sylvain, who primarily considers herself a painter, described the evolution of her career first designing scenery for theaters to now being invested in public art. She devoted her painting skills to design and public sphere, doing multi-media projects throughout the city. She has done a tunnel mural about the Great Migration at the Dyett High School and is currently working on an exterior mural at Mariano’s on 39th Street and Martin Luther King Drive.

As an educator, she loves working with children and encourages collaboration and cross pollination in art. As an example, Sylvain created a mural with children at the Experimental Station titled “Exploding Bike Shop.” Another mural exhibit that Sylvain did as a part of “art intervention” can be seen at the old South Shore Bank on 71st Street and Jeffrey Boulevard to beautify the corner that had deteriorated since the bank’s closure.

Sylvain described Burroughs as an integral part of the landscape that influenced her as an artist. She said the South Side was the epicenter of all her learning as an artist. Growing up in a vibrant art scene and the cultural environment of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Sylvain drew great inspiration from the collective energy and planning of Burroughs and her contemporaries who were driven to make things happen despite a dearth of political power. Sylvain described Burroughs as “very accessible, always friendly, always talkative, and always wanting to know what you are up to?” adding, “she wanted people to approach living with a purpose and not just selfish gratification, but what are you doing for the community. It always had to be in the context of ‘we.’” This deep sense of connection of history about the people and their identity is the vital takeaway from Burroughs that Sylvain takes inspiration from and strives to achieve in her own commitment to children, teaching, and bringing art to the public.

Sheppard, a South-African artist living in Chicago who describes herself as the “product of apartheid,” came to America on a self-imposed exile. Reflecting on her life at the time of apartheid in South Africa, Sheppard noted the stark similarities in the aftermath of apartheid in South Africa to the rippling effects slavery had on Black people in America. She believes that there is an identity crisis because of the degradation and indignation that people affected by apartheid and slavery have suffered for generations and that they continue to carry the baggage of labels given to them by the system.

Sheppard said that this baggage plus a lack of resources is a significant problem for most artists of color, who feel driven to produce art that white gallerists will like rather than what they want to produce. To overcome this, Sheppard insists it is important to create more platforms that represent artists of color. “We own what we create, and we are in spaces that were not there for us before,” she said. Sheppard currently runs a Chicago based non-profit organization called Color Me Africa Fine Arts to help exhibit the works of South African artists in America and back home.

One lingering theme that emerged from the discussion was the challenges faced by artists of color in claiming an artistic space for themselves and their work. What can black artists do to engage black collectors to invest in just collecting art to tell the stories of black people and not compete with white benefactors after they promote a certain artist or a kind of artwork? When the moderator posed this question to the panelists, there were a range of reflections that came out of the discussion.

Hand replied that there is more than one art world.

There are collectors who collect art for the love of it, she said. They care for the stories and, at times, bring their own stories with the art. Then there are collectors who operate like stock markets: They invest in art only to build “brands” that eventually reap more profits from the brand-building endeavor.

Hand said artists should ask themselves which of these worlds they wish to belong – “high stakes game or love of art?”

herald@hpherald.com

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