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tv   Miss Anne in Harlem  CSPAN  December 23, 2013 8:55pm-9:51pm EST

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president. che guevara had no legitimacy because he came in as this outsider originally this argentinian who became a cuban citizen from the outside with a handful of followers. they didn't even speak the language is the local indians and in fact shaye's best friend was -- so it's no surprise that by 1967 he was hunted down by these guys the bolivian army rangers trained by u.s. army special or says. this is how che wound up, if even shaye guevera this icon of the revolution could be defeated and killed then i don't want to hear anybody suggest that it's impossible to defeat any group or insurgency. you can do it. you just have to have the right strategy. the question is what is the
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right strategy? there've been many approaches but essentially they come down to what i would call -- what is known today as population-centric counterinsurgency or hearts and minds. there was kind of a controlled experiment run by to the great nations of europe, britain and france in the 1950s to show which of these approaches is more successful because britain and france were each fighting counterinsurgency is an different colonies on different sides of the world. the french were fighting in algeria from 1954 to 1962. the british were fighting in malaya from 1948 to 1960s and they adopted very different methods of fighting with the french exemplifying the -- approach in the british applying the british --
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if you want to find out one good way of doing it is by simply renting this wonderful movie the battle of algiers which i would recommend to anybody interested in what happened in algeria because it's actually pretty accurate in what it depicts is what happened in 1957 when the french try to break up an insurgent cell and the city of algiers by planting bombs killing civilians and especially european civilians. what they did was they rounded up tens of thousands of muslim men in the casbah the native quarter of algiers and they sent them in for interrogation to find out what they knew. how did the interrogation process were? we know because of what happened to this gentleman. he was not an algerian. he was french. he ran a republican newspaper in algiers and it was for this sin that he was picked up by
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paratroopers from the tenth pair trooper division in 1957. he was taken to an interrogation center. now we all know about the torture like the rack or the iron -- but a new modern instrument of torture. it has two clips and you attach the clips of the appendages to the person you are interrogainterroga ting. you turn the crank and the faster you turn the more electricity comes out. what happened to him? he was taken to this interrogation center by the paratroopers. he was stripped and put on a wooden board, strapped in with leather straps and he had initially the clips apply to his ear and his finger. what he later wrote of his experience that a flash of
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lightning exploded next to my ear and i felt my heart racing. i struggled screaming but he did not give up information the paratroopers wanted. so then they took one of the clips off of his era and attached it to his. he wrote my body shook with nervous shocks stronger in intensity. this newspaper editor did not give up the information that the paratroopers are demanding so they dragged him off the table using his tie around his neck as a leash and after beating him savagely with their fists they tied him to a board. they subjected him to what the paratroopers called french slang for a practice that we know of as waterboarding. he said i have the impression of drumming and terrible agony of death itself to possession of me. after this ordeal he was dragged still thrown into a cell on a
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mattress stuffed with our dwyer and left to spend that night listening to the bugs and the screams resonating around the interrogation center. now that is a very tough approach to counterinsurgency. we sometimes hear that torture doesn't work. don't you believe it. however questionable or or reprehensible that maybe or reprehensible that maybe it can be tactically effective and in fact it was tactically affect you for the french in the battle of algiers. within nine months they managed to get all the insurgents to rat each other out. they rolled out the entire insurgent network in algiers and by the end of 1957 algiers was safe. you can argue in a tactical sense the french won the battle of algiers. the problem was the publicity that attended their practices. they could not keep secret.
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andre was for some inexplicable reason allowed to do -- and he wrote a book which became a bestseller in france. then there were others who spilled the beans on what was happening in algeria or that caused a huge public backlash not only in france but around the world and ultimately it was that public backlash that cost french -- france the algerian war. the attack takes which have been very effective tactically that led to eventually the defeat in algeria. on the other side of the world at virtually the same time the british were fighting their own counterinsurgency in malaya. the war effort there starting in 1952 was led by this man, general gerald templin who should not be confused with this man the actor for whom he is a dead ringer.
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this man, not this man for this man was the british commander in malaya. when he arrived in 1952 he found it deeply entrenched insurgency much as in algeria two years later. the one in malaya was being raised by the group trying to take over in the post-war era. they dynamited trains in the evening killed the previous high commissioner. in fact gerald templer drove from the air for in the same rolls-royce in which his predecessor had been shot to death months before. that must have been a chilling experience. it would have been very understandable if under those circumstances general templer had resorted to absolute savagery to terrorize the population into acquiescence but that is not what he did. he understood his success was not terrorizing the population. it was securing the population and he went about it in a friday
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of ways. one of his most effective programs with setting up what were known as new villages. he understood the heart of the communist appeal on the china squatters a half a million who were not citizens of malaya who are outcasts with no real jobs were a prime breeding ground for insurgency. what he did was he relocated hundreds of these new villages where they would have fields to work and they would have medical clinics and oh by the way they would also have fences and armed guards around them to keep them away from the insurgents. essentially what he was doing was preventing the chinese squatters who continue to support the insurgency. ..
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by heards and minds he didn't going hand out a lot of good yis. we're going control the people. first of all, it requires establishing security for the people, which he certainly ask. but requires having some legitimacy to make the people ak acquiesce to what the security forces are doing. and the most powerful weapon was the promise of indpeps. because he told the people that if you help us dpe feet the communists insurgency, we will make you free and an independent nation. that's exactly what he did. well this be is not something the french understood in at gear ya. they were trying to fight for the continuation of the french colonialial empire. not surprisingly there were not a lot of al gear begans eager to fight for continued french role. he got it. the frenchedness. he understand the importance.
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that's something which is also proven crucially important in recent years. in places such as northern ireland or colombia or iraq. many of them have followed pretty closely open the temp particular play book. this is not just a major of historical interest. because in fact, just as insurgency has been the dominant form of warfare it remains so today. on september 11th of last year should remind us. it's not a threat going away despite the death of bin laden. in my way, it could actually -- i hate to say it, could get worse. one of the major trends over the last 100 or so years is that the fire power available to insurgents has been increasing. a century ago western army
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battled insurgent who had nothing more than a few rusty muskets. today there is no corner of the world so remote that every inhabitant doesn't have access to an ak 47, a rocket propelled grenade. very hard to deal with even though they are basic infantry weapons. what does the future hold? we have to contemplate the possibility that insurgents could get their hands on weapons of mass destruction and alass we may not have george klein any around to save us. i don't mean to be overly alarmist something. it's something we have to think about seriously. what happens if insurgents get their hands on a weapons of mass destruction. this is a map that comes from a magazine i'm sure you averred readers of called the "international journal of health agree graphic." you can check out your copy at home.
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what it demonstrates is what happens if a 20 kiloton nuclear device were to go off in downtown manhattan. a 20 kiloton device, i'm sure you know, is not a very big nuke. it's the same size of one that flattened nagasaki. that was a long tyke ale. -- time ago. they are full of many nuclear weapons many times bigger than this. this is a very rough and ready nuke, the kind not be hard for the iranians or the north koreans or the pakistanis or others to design. what happens if one of them was popped off in downtown manhattan? well, the map shows with certain assumptions about wind speed and other factors what the devastation would be. and of course, it's worse around ground zero and getting better as you go farther out. but the estimate in this in the ?irveg journal is that the relatively small nuclear device would injury about 1.6 million people and kill over 600,000
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people. just from being set off in lower manhattan. and of course, you would see similar devastation if one were to set off in washington. now, i don't mean to alarm anybody here. but i think we need to think about these kinds of dangers. because they are not going away. and as the iranian nuclear program accelerates, as pakistan destabilizes. these are real possibilities that we have to think very hard about. rome was brought down by bar bar begans. we have to be careful that we ourselves are not brought down by them. and i think the first self-defense to understand the nature of the problem. and that's what i've tried to contribute to with this book to show the kind of strategy that insurgents have employed over the century as well as the strategies used to encounter them inspect is something we need to think about. insurgency is not going away. even after afghanistan it's going to remain the number one threat we face. thank you. [applause]
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[inaudible] okay, ladies and gentlemen, we will now take questions. please identify yourself. >> thank you. [inaudible] >> rule of law can be a very important part of establishing legitimacy, because as i said, it's very hard to win with a pure strategy. even though when you're willing to be as brutal as the nazis. say that still didn't manage to pass if i the ball kins in world world war ii. even though they were willing to kill a million people.
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because the nazis and the soviets offer nothing positive. they offer no reason why the people of yugoslavia or the people of afghanistan would support them. they offer nothing but death and desolation. that ultimately, was not a winning strategy. i think what people want to see is the rule of law. not necessarily our law but our law. socialit's something people respond positively to. if they see that, the soldiers around them are enforcing the law rather than preying upon them. rather than stealing from them. rather than raping their daughters if see they the soldiers are upholding the law, they're going to be much more likely to support those soldiers response upholding the resume of law is, i would argue, a crucial element of successful counterinsurgency. right here. robert price. how do we do this cheap and easy? we have done it before here now
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twice in iraq and afghanistan. protective periods of counterinsurgency long-term, even after they -- the immediate -- threat were taken down followed by extensive amount of nation building, et. cetera. you do it every time or is there an achievement easier way to do this? >>ideally, you will not have to wage future counterinsurgency by sending thousand of thousand of american -- i think being to be partner -- which is something we can do with some degree of success. we have seen the strategy backfire. we wound up overthrowing the government. to my mind, a great template of how to do this successfully comes from somebody we tend to forget these days but should remember. edward, the quiet american once a legendary figure.
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a former advertising man who joined the air force and the cia. and sent to the philippines in the late '40s when they were facing the rebellion. one of the major communist uprising of the post world world war ii period. what he did was didn't send an army to back them up. he drove to the boondocks to get to know them. he didn't sit in the embassy. he went out there to figure out what was going on. the most important thing, he identified a great leader who can lead the philippines out with some support. who rooted a lot of corruption causing people to turn away from the philippine government. he ended brutality on the part of the army which was causing
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villagers to flee to the hands. he established elections and basically took away all of the ideological appeal that they could possibly have. who will be honest, uncorrupt, tough beneficiary a true leader that the people of afghanistan can respect. i would suggest to you that we need or modern day edward who understand the situation in afghanistan. when the trust of loyalty and
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find an honest man. yes, they exist. even in afghanistan. find an honest man and promote him as much as possible to the presidency. that kind of leadership can be worth more than entire situation dwitions of american troops. a point of rule of law and public rule of law and how that rolls in to probably the biggest rule overseeing right now which is in mally. and more broadly you have an organizations like that are portraying themselves as pseudo rule of law organization which is law they support, obviously, which they claim is culturally more appropriate to the region, obviously, is a hard core [inaudible] cutting people's hands down and
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tearing down shrines. the question becomes -- [inaudible] is there a universal rule of law that is humane, or should we just accept that what they're saying is a former rule of law and might have to go another way. well, i mean, what we found in recent years you have the fundamental groups take over areas. and try to impose their rule of law this the puritans look like easy going vacationers by comparison. when they actually try to impose the code even in die hard conservative muslim area finance proves very unpopular. it was why iraq al qaeda suffered a backlash. they didn't like to be ruled by people told them they were
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executed for smoking a cigarette. it that's why the taliban were not that hard to overthrown in 2001. the people of afghanistan turned against this bar backic code that the tennessee were trying to impose. this is, you know, in iraq and afghanistan hardly two of the most liberal countries in world. today i connect you see it happen in northern mali. i suspect it's not proving popular. however, the reason why the groups can have enduring appeal is because there's not a good alternative. and the problem that we face, for example, in afghanistan, is that brutal and unpopular as the taliban are, the government is often been worse. because the government has not delivered any kind of justice. what the government delivers is a decision that goes to the highest bidder. and so that is the taliban may be, they are less corrupt. you will get a more or less honest judgment.
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that's not the eye teal but it may be better the than the alternative. in -- is try build up nonfundamentallist rule of law that deliver a modicum of justice comp is what the people want. but not to do it with the kind of bar barracker i think we will be successful. [inaudible] voice of america. what about syria -- [inaudible] it's interesting what happened as the power of the media has grown the strategies are becoming less successful. these days they can only work in places where nobody is paying attention.
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it works in sure sley lane can. it worked recently for russia and. but look what happened in libya. there's no doubt in my mind that 100 years ago he would not have succeeded. he did not succeed because the tension of the world news media about united states and the international organizations focus odd whon what he was doing. before he could come in and torch benghazi and kill all the rebel, we in our nato allies intervened to stop it. it in the case of syria, i have not intervened but certainly other outside powers have. and the rebels have been able to get support, for example, from the gulf states. which keeps them from being simply swept off the board. both sides have, you know, some degree of support but not
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overwhelming. assad is unpopular but they haven't been able to push them out all the way. assad, it goes back to a point i was making earlier about the incredible importance of the legitimacy. i would say more most syrians he likes legitimacy especially for the sunni majority. it's al wait and part of a minor it . me has support in the alawite community. he has support in the other minority. they're afraid of what happens if the sunni take over. they are able to cling to power with a small degree of almost no, but a small degree of legitimacy left. the rebel, in turn, are arguably forfeiting by allowing extremist slammists to take a prominent role in the rank. and so, you know, the conflict is stalemated. but this is, you know, a classic insurgency and courage insurgency i suspect at the end of the day will end as a victory . what is the problem going look like after wards?
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that's what the government has to worry about. what is hard to establish security and stability after wards. it's the big challenge. it's where we've strugged in iraq and afghanistan and struggled even more in syria. enabling [inaudible]
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it's minds boggling howment of tens of billions dollars we have wasted in countries like iraq and afghanistan building while elephant projects of no earthly use and actually battling the insurgency. the water treatment plants. i'm not sure why we were doing it. i think it's something we call the gratitude theory of counterinsurgency. if you give them cool stuff, they will like. you a. if you give them cool stuff and not in control of the area, the other side claim credit for it. and so if you build stuff inside the city but don't control the city, guess what, they will claim it. but the larger problem is if you don't have security, it doesn't matter how much people like you. they're not going to come over to your side if they get killed for doing it. they're not suicidal. they're not going commit suicide because they love a water treatment plant. so you have to have basic
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security. and to establish basic security. you have to have men with guns on the street 247. it's the essence of the surge implemented in 2011. it was the realization you can't just do drive byes. you have to be able to control the neighborhoods, protect the people. that the point they're willing to come over to your side and. sure, there are some spending helpful some jobs programs to put unemployed young men to work so they are not planting bombs. at the end of the cay, it comes down to security by legitimacy, and a lot of runway spending on -- not going win a lot of counterinsurgencies.
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[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] and seems that especially toward the latter day of iraq and afghanistan, we were kind of pushing -- [inaudible] >> well, first let me reintegrate what i said earlier, which is thank you for your service. and the service of so many others in this room. if you answer your question, it's a good one. because you're right. traditional the army special force the green beret have taken the lead role in unconventional warfare and dealing with gorilla
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and act as gur gur little wills themselves. they have been resist toant that kind of mission. we have paid, i think, a heavy price in our recent military history for that resistance. because we went in to vietnam with a fairly arrogant attitude on the part of some such as, you know, a u.s. army chief of staff in the early '60s who famously said, any good soldier can handle gur riel wills. but in fact guerrillas fight in a different manner. and the same armed forces that wipe the floor of the vermont wound up losing to the vet congress. along the way, i think, the army and the marine corps. learned a lot of lessons. by the end of the vietnam war. they knew what they were doing. the tragedy is what happened after wards. then the counterinsurgency
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manuals were literally thrown in the trash and said we're done with that! >> yes never want to do this again. let's get back to fighting the red army. when army went to afghanistan and iraq, the big army, i'm not talking about special forces, the big army was not well prepared. i think we paid a heavy price for the fact we didn't have an army marine counterinsurgency until the end of twirks. they figured out what to do. they didn't have a manual. along the way, they have become perhaps the finest counter insurgety force the world has ever seen. what the young officers are able to do in the field is mind boggling. they are manipulating so many different -- they are good at doing this kind of stuff.
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so to a specific cultural concept. they understand in in the way they didn't at the beginning of the war. my concern is what happens out now we are out. i hear lot of people in the army saying thank goodness that's over with. we never want to do it again. let's get back to -- there's no red army anymore. we'll fight somebody like the red army if they kind enough to come out and let us wack them. well, i wish there were more leaders out there stupid as saddam hussein but i'm concern there had may not be. because, you know, saddam hussein was obliging putting them in the tanks in the desert with the "hit me signs." there are not other leaders willing to do. i expect they are learned from the experience of saddam hussein
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who wound up getting kill forked the troubles. i suspect they have learned it's smarter to fight with a regular tactics. my concern is that's what we're going to see a lot more of in the future. and i'm worried that the army and mat -- marine corps. are in for a nasty surprise. i'm concerned they're going to forget the lessons they have learned. i would like do you stay in place for him to get out the door. he's got another appointment he's got get to. he's time sensitive with it i give you the final two minutes to wrap it up. leave us with closing. >> well, i would like to leave you, essentially, with where i started. which is by reminding you the way we think about
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unconventional warfare is missed up. it's the norm. not going away. adopting new ways to attack us. they're not going do it on a conventional battle field standing toe to toe. nay going to attack our weak spot whether using weapons of mass destruction. whether using cyber weapons. whether it's going to be staging all sorts of terrorist plots and hostage places. this is what warfare is all about. we're never going achieve the idea of conventional warfare. there are few of those wars throughout history. senator not -- there is not going to be a lot in the future. like it or not, we better get ready. which i fear and suspect the future is going look a lot like the past. which means a lot of unconventional warfare in our future.
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[applause] ..
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>> why would you want to transform america? that means you don't like it very much, do you? you don't like capitalism, private property rights very much or like our constitutional system very much. when you keep hearing this fundamental transformation, change is hard, we need more time for change, we need to understand this is a direct attack on our constitutional system. that's what he's talking about. that's what he means. >> sunday, january 5th, best selling author, lawyer, reagan administration official and radio personal di mark levin takes your calls on questions on "in-depth" for three hours at noon eastern. the first sunday of every month on c-span2.
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>> hello. is this sound okay? so welcome, everyone. it's great to be here. i'm excited for this conversation because carla and i are going to talk about a subject we both know intimately touching on aspects of racial passing and racial crossover, and all kinds of unusual stories that are sometimes short thrift in american history and if american literature and american cultural studies, so, carla, why don't you tell us a little about the title and the women in your book. >> so, absolutely. oh, my microphone. sorry. my -- this okay? as a way of getting into answering this question, let me disart with a couple of thank yous. great to be here with me tonight, and to my amazing
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publishers for letting me use the title because one of the tricks to this, the title has been referred to rightly as cheeky is that miss anne is not a phrase with the same recognized ability across race lines. if you dropped that phrase into a room full of black folks, everyone would giggle and snicker, and you got the phrase with the miss anne" into white folks, and they looked at you blankly. that points to the fact that today we still often live in very different and divided communities, although, i'm glad to see this room does not reflect that decision. miss anne has been for a long time a devicive term in the community for any white woman, a any facty turning of the black community on the white community taking a category of people and
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putting them as a type and dismissing them. of course, what had happened to black people for centuries, so it's a term for white women, and miss anne was the notion of the women i write about were up against. they faced opposition to what they were doing from every possible direction. these were women who were not going up to black harlem just to go slumming. they were not going up to black harlem just as tourists. they really wanted to put the black culture explosion that was the harlem renaissance at the center of their lives and sent ire their lives in black harlem, and it was an up likely idea at the time, and to be tried to be taken seriously in harlem as participants and even as voluntary negroes. one of the obstacles was the idea that women were mississippi
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anne. don't listen to her, she works for miss anne or worked. they say rightful skepticism from the black community, skepticism the black community had to have given the race relations in the country and face violent opposition from the white community that said do this and you may not come back home. do this, and we are done with you. miss anne was just part of the obstacle they faced in making this really unlikely choice. >> in a nutshell, tell us who the women are, briefly. we'll get into the detail, but who are the women? >> i'll keep it very brief. so i focused on six women in this book who are exemplary of the larger group of white women putting harlem at the center of their lives. i focused on six who are
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exemplary of the strategies white women try to use to be part of the harlem renaissance being hostesses, patrons, activists, writers, editors, lovers, wives, mothers, but also six women who left enough behind to tell their story in their own words. how do you think it would work out? what was the experience like? lillian wood was a yankee school marm teacher in tennessee who wrote an important novel and always assumed to be a black woman. because part of her novel was an incredible indictment of why women for the complicity with the lynching, and nobody thought portrayal of monsters to come from a white woman. another woman i write about is joseph, a texas heiress,
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marrying the george skylar. the most notorious philanthropist and patron of the renaissance, assumed to be a dragon and nightmare beloved by her black property -- proteges. how many of you went to bernard? hands, please. nobody? that's the first time in in store that ever happened. >> upper west side. >> indeed. everybody remember this happened. there's a play, an indictment of lynching, so controversial that the play house waited seven years to stage it and closed it after ten performances. nancy, british heiress who lost everything because she refused to renounce the love of blackness and devoted most important years of her life to trying to make what was
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wonderful in black culture available to whites. that's probably enough. >> we'll have a couple occasions to read briefly from the book, and the first one i'll ask you to read is a poem that you did not write. >> i did not write. >> disclay mori necessary because this poem made me cringe a bit, but you put it front and center in the book, and it's called "a white girl's prayer," read that, and then talk a little bit about its context and why you chose to put it where you did. >> with everybody, okay, i'll go up to the podium. how does this sound? this is the piece of the book, and there was a period in the late 1920s and early 1930s when the crisis, one of the two most important journals in harlem of black cultures and indeed in the nation started turning its
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poets' page, a long running feature in the paper, started turning the poets' page over to be a forum for white views of race. this is important part of the crisis. this poem by edna margaret johnson is called "a white girl's prayer," and let me read it first, and then i'll say a couple things about why the book leads off with this. i'm not going to read every line, just to get an idea. she was a white woman. i rise in self-contempt, oh god, my nor kick flesh is but a curse. oh, god of life, remove this curse. the cords of shame are strangling me. remorse is mine. i would atone for white superiority.
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sheer carnal pride of my own race. tonight, on bended knees i pray, free me from my dispiased flesh and make me yellow, bronze, or black. i start the book with that poem not because it's the best poem written, you know, in the late 19 # 20s, but because this longing for blackness is a really important part of what's happening in white culture at this moment. langston hughes called it the voke for things black, connected to the primitiveness movement, the idea that white culture was depleted and washed out and dried and could only be revitalized by bringing in the life forces of so-called primitive people so some primitives look to africa, others to the southwest, some look to tahiti, but there is something more important at work
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than just that primitiveness longing for blackness, which is edna margaret johnson who does want to get away from whiteness, she also wants to take responsibility for whiteness. she says shements to atone, and the women i write about in the book had very strongly a longing for blackness seeing it as preferable to whiteness at a time when that was unthinkable, and they wanted to take responsibility for whiteness, and for some, that meant becoming voluntary negroes. >> a generous reading, and that's how we read things differently talking about judgment and what we do with these characters. in my book "near black" there's a cultural history of black whites who passed as blacks, and there's a couple kinds passing for black -- i don't have too many women in the book which is
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why your book fills a need, but there's two kinds of passing that you might talk about about. one is passive passing for blacks opposedded to others passing for black and the other is pending passing, and some of the characters you write about engage in that. >> let me just add to that as a way to answer that. one of the things about stresses in her book, near black, a wonderful study of racial ideology and this rare form is passing is that what was passing is rare in american culture and american history. there is lots of instances for largely economic reasons of black passing for whites. whites passing for black is a much more unusual phenomena, and a number of the women i write about in the book engaged in what we to call passive passing, which is to say they did something considered so unlikely
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or unthinkable that they were assumed, well, that person must be black, and they did not correct the record. in the case of lillian wood and her novel, "let me people go," lillian wood has been listed, until now, in every bibliography, as a black writer because her portrayal of white women is so sering, her depiction of white women as monsters guilty of racial violence is to unusual that no bib i don't care fer imagined she could be a white woman. she never corrected the record. she had lived her life as a white teacher in a black college and stayed there for decades until she was the only white teacher left standing in the yearly faculty photo, and she was perfectly happy never to correct the record. she certainly knew about it, but she led it stand. that's a form of passive passing. there were other women in the
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book, like josephine, who engaged in active forms of passing. on the marriage certificate, she was nervous on her wedding day saying to her husband, what do i do; what do i say? even though interracial marriage was not illegal, it was frawned on. she wrote down color. she also, in her neighborhood where she lived in harlem, did not correct her neighbor's who thought that, well, maybe she's a very light skinned black woman. that's a passive form of passing. she was active passer. i discovered in the course of doing the work on this book that she wrote about under a half dozen pseudonyms and one was a women named julia jerome, who was the black ann landers of harlem. here's whites, josephine skylar,
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writing relationship advice columns as a black woman. that's active. pen name passing at another form of passing also engaged in by josephine skylar, and it is, for some people, a way of experiencing a kind of freedom about which they are a little uneasy because when you're engaging in pen name passing, you don't answer face-to-face questions, so i think about it as my're name is woodrow passing, a way of trying on identities, trying them on, taking them off, trying another one on. >> in a very safe context. >> in a very safe context, but in a moment when playing around
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with being a whole bunch of people across gender and race lines was not only tolerated, but encouraged. >> two of the male equivalents in my book that are interesting are the founder of the first black niewch -- newspaper in new orleans, quotes, never sought to deny the rumor that i was black. interestingly enough, and there's an author who wrote a novel called "i spit on your grave," a dark novel that involved passing and lynching. very, very gruesome and intense. he passed as sullivan, an african-american, and he was a white frenchman, and nobody knew for years and years who he really was, so interesting stuff. >> yeah. >> another reading talk about josephine skylar, who you mentioned, her friendly relationship with skylar, her
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husband. >> so i am going to talk about josephine and the biography is here with us, and if you want to chime in, please do so. it's a great honor to have you here. josephine skylar emerged, i think, as the star of the book, the character who is speaking to most people, and for me, she was a very important character because she speaks to all of the ways white women tried to be a part of black harlem. she was a writer. she was an editor. she was a patron. she was a tiny bit of a philanthropist, although they didn't have a lot of money. she was a lover. she was a wife. she was a mother. she was unlikely. josephine skylar was born in texas to a family of enormous wealth, and at 17, she ran away, first marrying a traveling salesman, a cereal salesman,
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cereal, a new invenges at the time, and then ran to san fransisco to be a nude artist model, and after she did that with no great satisfaction, she went to grennich village, rented a studio, had fantasies of being a new woman, and in three months, bored to tears, didn't see what the fuss was about, and she said, no, i know what i'm going to do. she published three poems in the messager. she was part of that move on the part of black patrons to get space and voice to write ryers on race. she went up to the message officers where she walked in, met george, they fell head over heels in love, went dancing, and that was it from then on. after much back and fort, she did marry george, had their daughter, and she's a complicated character as it's fairly clear, but that as
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carefully as i can, with kathy in the room, that josephine did a considerable amount of george's writing. in fact, there's no other explanation for george's productivity, particularly when he was traveling in africa, had no way to get pieces back, and she wrote under all these other pseudonames. her life was isolated, lost her family, was not welcomed in most black social circles. at the same time, it gave her the freedom to be six or seven different people at once and to have a life that her texas background couldn't have provided her: a last piece that's difficult, cringe-worthy, but striking, is that this was a woman who crossed from a texas background, her father part of the ku klux klan, raised by racist in a racist culture.


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