Regarding predecessors, it wasn't at the same level of immersion, broad talent or personal response but early sides by The Righteous Brothers were an absolute staple of black radio in the early '60s when that "reverse cross-over" was pretty rare. But their material went down-hill pretty quickly.
Earlier the only example I know of someone who literally chose to "become black" in music was Johnny Otis - who was a Greek-American kid from Berkeley. In his teens he married his black sweet heart, traveled with all black blues and "territory" swing bands in the late '30s and early '40s, was totally immersed in black culture and music and had a string of big band, early R&B and R&R hits via his own band and singers he promoted like Big Mama Thornton, Esther Phillips and Etta James.
But Johnny basically claimed blackness in a pre-civil rights world when you couldn't live and move across "color lines" without making a life choice and sticking to it - he was simply considered black, even making the cover of "Negro Achievements" magazine in the early '50s, and was deeply involved in SoCal black political activism. I've talked to older black folk who saw his band at the Apollo in the 40s and early 50s and didn't have any idea he was white.
I caught some justifiable heat for linking to Teena Marie's more pop joints, but I refuse to front--I'll take The Righteous Brothers version of "Unchained Melody" over Harry Belafonte's. There. I said it. Ghost ruined that song.
There's also some interesting conversation here about how black people have thought about white people who've done the reverse cross-over. As is mentioned in the comment, this deserves to be bracketed off from simply singing R&B, or performing blackness. It's interesting that Brucds notes that many people thought Otis was black. I can totally see why. Pictured above is Abe and Effa Manley, co-owners of the Newark Eagles. Again, I would not have known this, but Effa was white--but had a black stepfather and was thus considered "a light-skinned black."
I think what all of this really is how much blackness, like any culture, really isn't about a melanin count, per se. So much of it is historical along with specific mores. It's no mistake that both Manley and Teena Marie grew up around black people. Johnny Otis claimed to be "black by persuasion."
You look at this people's lives--Manley was the first woman inducted into the baseball hall of fame--and it's kind of humbling. It's like, I'm the descendant of slave, they aren't. But really, if Teena Marie says "I'm a black artists with white skin" who am I to truly object? Johnny Otis was on the cover of Negro Achievements. That's more than you can say for the kid.
Also, Questlove, for a less poppy perspective, Questlove breaks down his Teena Marie favorites.
She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.
The ashes filled a black plastic box about the size of a toaster. It weighed three and a half pounds. I put it in a canvas tote bag and packed it in my suitcase this past July for the transpacific flight to Manila. From there I would travel by car to a rural village. When I arrived, I would hand over all that was left of the woman who had spent 56 years as a slave in my family’s household.
The condition has long been considered untreatable. Experts can spot it in a child as young as 3 or 4. But a new clinical approach offers hope.
This is a good day, Samantha tells me: 10 on a scale of 10. We’re sitting in a conference room at the San Marcos Treatment Center, just south of Austin, Texas, a space that has witnessed countless difficult conversations between troubled children, their worried parents, and clinical therapists. But today promises unalloyed joy. Samantha’s mother is visiting from Idaho, as she does every six weeks, which means lunch off campus and an excursion to Target. The girl needs supplies: new jeans, yoga pants, nail polish.
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At 11, Samantha is just over 5 feet tall and has wavy black hair and a steady gaze. She flashes a smile when I ask about her favorite subject (history), and grimaces when I ask about her least favorite (math). She seems poised and cheerful, a normal preteen. But when we steer into uncomfortable territory—the events that led her to this juvenile-treatment facility nearly 2,000 miles from her family—Samantha hesitates and looks down at her hands. “I wanted the whole world to myself,” she says. “So I made a whole entire book about how to hurt people.”
The story was notably loud. Its retraction is notably quiet.
On Tuesday of last week, the day after TheWashington Post published its bombshell about President Trump’s Oval Office divulgences to Sergey Lavrov and Sergei Kisliyak, Sean Hannity took to the air at the Fox News Channel to discuss a murdered man named Seth Rich. Rich, a 27-year-old staffer at the Democratic National Committee, had been been gunned down in Washington, DC, in July, seemingly the victim of a violent crime. Earlier that day, however, a local Fox TV station had reported—in a claim that would quickly be debunked—that Rich had ties to WikiLeaks, and that his death was, rather than the tragic result of random violence, instead evidence of a deeper conspiracy.
In the days since, that idea has leapt to life in the conservative areas of the media—an easy symbol, in the minds of many, of the “mainstream” media’s stubborn and partisan refusal to report on a story that would put the DNC in a negative light. (“Silence from Establishment Media over Seth Rich WikiLeaks Report,” Breitbartseethed.) And so, as many members of the nation’s press corps set out to further the Post’s reporting on the White House, the Rich story became a chorus-like feature on conservative-learning media—and not just in Hannity’s extra-bombastic corner of Fox News. The Rich story hit Drudge. It exploded on social media. “NOT RUSSIA, BUT AN INSIDE JOB?” Breitbart asked, provocatively. The site added that, “if proven, the report has the potential to be one of the biggest cover-ups in American political history, dispelling the widespread claim that the Russians were behind hacks on the DNC.”
Can governments be as innovative about saving lives?
Yesterday’s terrorist attack that struck at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Britain’s Manchester Arena—leaving 22 people dead and 59 injured, by the latest count—feels perhaps even more callous and personal than other such recent atrocities. As TheNew York Timesnoted, the target was “a concert spilling over with girls in their teens or younger, with their lives ahead of them, out for a fun night.”
For Europe, the attack, now claimed by ISIS, represents a continuation of a nightmare scenario: The pace and deadliness of terrorist attacks in the continent has reached levels unprecedented in the post-9/11 era, with the heinous and grotesque becoming frighteningly routine.
Even five years ago, specialists could count the major post-9/11 attacks in Western countries on one hand, and knew every date on which they had been perpetrated. They were known by names like 3/11 or 7/7 (references to attacks in Madrid and London, respectively).
Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer, and Sasheer Zamata all said their goodbyes last weekend—in very different ways.
In the past, departing Saturday Night Live cast members have gotten whole sketches devoted to sending them off. Kristen Wiig was serenaded with song and dance from Mick Jagger and the rest of the crew; Bill Hader’s Stefon finally married Seth Meyers; Will Ferrell got a series of testimonials. On last weekend’s 42nd season finale, the show said goodbye to three cast members with varying tenures and legacies: Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer, and Sasheer Zamata. The first got a goodbye sketch of sorts, the second a couple of featured roles on her last night, and the third no acknowledgement at all. It was a slightly muddled end to what feels like one of SNL’s weaker eras—even as the show breaks ratings records in the age of Donald Trump.
Her career of female self-determination demonstrates the rights of religion, sexuality, and expression that much terrorism seeks to undo.
Among the many sickening aspects of the bombing that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, Monday night is the sense of a pattern. Ever since the November 2015 Paris attacks that claimed lives at a rock concert and soccer match, violent Islamic extremists have continued making mass entertainment events one of their primary targets. There was the Pulse massacre in Orlando and the street-festival truck attack in Nice, but also killings at nightclubs in Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, and Tel Aviv.
There’s no doubt a logistical rationale to assaulting these “soft targets”—they may be vulnerable, and bloodshed at them can inspire a particular kind of fear among civilians. But it stands to reason there’s an ideological motive too: A culture is embodied in its gatherings and in its entertainments. The particular implications of targeting musical events, which are almost inevitably bound up with art’s larger humanitarian project, have been widely noted.
As numerous readers have written, one of the most moving aspects of “My Family’s Slave” is that Alex Tizon was able to honor Eudocia Tomas Pulido, whom he knew as Lola, by telling her story—while one of the tragedies is that Pulido was never able to tell it herself. My colleague Vann writes:
Tizon doesn’t know her desires, fears, attachments, or even very much about her own story. He attempts to learn these things, but doesn’t get very far, and we never learn whether the failure is due simply to Pulido’s reticence or to the fact that years of servitude had minimized her story even in her own mind.
After reading Alex’s essay and some of the criticism on social media, this reader wrote to us with the subject line, “On Eudocia, from someone who went through it”:
The administration backed away from its aggressive January order punishing jurisdictions that limit collaboration between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions pulled back on President Trump’s January executive order cracking down on “sanctuary cities” on Monday, releasing a memo that represents a significant retreat from the order’s original goal of punishing jurisdictions that limit collaboration between local authorities and federal immigration agents.
The memo narrowly defines sanctuary cities to “refer only to jurisdictions that ‘willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373.’” Section 1373, which was signed into law in 1996, prohibits jurisdictions from preventing any government entity or local official from exchanging information on an individual’s immigration status with federal immigration agents. There’s no clear definition for sanctuary cities. Sessions’s latest memo, which comes after a federal court in California blocked the president’s threat against sanctuary cities, concedes that using Section 1373 as the administration’s definition is perhaps the most legally sound approach.
The reported suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was aimed at preteen and teenage girls enjoying one of the best nights of their lives.
Every terrorist attack is an atrocity. But there’s something uniquely cowardly and especially cruel in targeting a venue filled with girls and young women. On Monday night, a reported suicide bomber detonated a device outside Manchester Arena, killing 22 people, many of whom were children. The victims had gathered at the 21,000-seat venue to see the pop musician Ariana Grande, a former Nickelodeon TV star whose fan base predominantly includes preteen and teenage girls. The goal of the attack, therefore, was to kill and maim as many of these women and children as possible.
How can you respond to such an event? Like the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, it’s something so horrific in intent and execution that it boggles the mind. And like the 2015 attack claimed by ISIS at the Bataclan theater in Paris and the shooting in Orlando last year, the Manchester bombing was targeting people who were celebrating life itself—the joy of music and the ritual of experiencing it as a community. For a number of children at the Grande concert, it would have been their first live musical event. Images and video of the aftermath of the bombing, depicting teenagers fleeing from the event, reveal some still clutching the pink balloons that Grande’s team had released during the show. The youngest confirmed victim of the attack, Saffie Rose Roussos, was 8 years old.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu explains to his city why four monuments commemorating the Lost Cause and the Confederacy had to come down.
Last week, the City of New Orleans finished removing four monuments—to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee, and the postwar battle of Liberty Place. The removals occasioned threats, protests, and celebrations. On Friday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu explained to his city why he had concluded that the monuments needed to come down.
The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way—for both good and for ill.