Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fighting Racism in Congress

In THE HUFFINGTON POST last Tuesday, Michael McAuliff compiled interviews of several African American members of Congress in order to expose the struggles these successful men face on a day-to-day basis. These timely interviews reveal that racism does not only affect youths such as Trayvon Martin; it also impacts the lives of our country's African American law-making officials. One of the interviewees, Rep. Hank Johnson, claims that he can tell a white woman is frightened by his presence when getting on an elevator and that "you can feel her tense up" (4:11). This leads to a troubling truth: despite our country's seeming embrace of an African American political leader, African American members of Congress feel that they must continue to fight racial stereotypes.

In RUMOR, REPRESSION, AND RACIAL POLITICS, George Derek Musgrove specifically addresses the role of race in the political careers of African Americans, covering the years of 1965 to 1995 to bring readers within twenty years of present-day issues. Throughout his book, Musgrove examines the disproportionate investigation of African American elected officials and their response, which he calls "harassment ideology." As Musgrove proves, this harassment ideology has shaped our current political culture, and it "illustrates the deep mistrust that continues to plague a society marred by pronounced racial inequality and distrust" (12). To strengthen his argument, he provides firsthand interviews of twenty-five sitting and former African American members of Congress, including Julian Bond and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

While many of the interviews from THE HUFFINGTON POST reveal racism that current Congressmen experience once they go home and "throw on a t-shirt and gym shorts," Rep. Alcee Hastings acknowledges that he frequently encounters racism while at work. In his interview, Hastings exposes the unfortunate similarities between high school cafeteria seating arrangements and those within Congress, concluding that neither is immune from segregation (5:44). Later, Hastings remarks on the typical reaction he perceives when pitted against his white counterpart: "Even with a badge on, people tend to look at the white Congressman rather than me, and you can see it" (6:25).

Musgrove himself cites Hastings as an example of continued discrimination of African American political leaders today, but he moves beyond Hastings' everyday interactions and places him within the larger narrative of harassment ideology. Musgrove believes that though various committees made progress in the nineties, "Since 2008 black elected officials have again come under the microscope," and this is most evident in the high percentage of investigations of African American members of Congress conducted by right-wing legal organizations. In 2011, Judicial Watch, an organization that Musgrove characterizes as "a conservative watchdog organization with a long history of filing suit against Democratic lawmakers," filed sexual harassment charges against Hastings (215). In keeping with his stance throughout the study, Musgrove refuses to determine the guilt of Hastings; instead, he leaves his readers to ponder what prompted the allegations in the first place.

RUMOR, REPRESSION, AND RACIAL POLITICS can equip the general public with a historical context to better understand racial discrimination today. It seems unlikely that the issue of racism—whether against African American teenagers or political leaders—will soon go away, but as long as the conversation continues in both the mainstream media and studies such as Musgrove's, there is hope for greater awareness and eventual change.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Giveaway Alert!

Sign up for our newsletter and qualify for our Flannery O'Connor Award 30 Years | 30 Books Giveaway!

This year is the 30th anniversary of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. The University of Georgia Press publishes the winning collections each year. All of the collections are currently in print and most are available in either paperback or ebook editions.

The award was established to encourage gifted young writers by bringing their work to the attention of readers and reviewers.

Sign up for our newsletter by September 1st to enter the drawing.*
Sign up here.

Prize includes:
- 30 titles from the acclaimed short fiction series
- Our great new UGA Press canvas tote

*One entry per person, please. Deadline to enter is September 1, 2013 at 11:59pm EDT.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Making the Case for Okra

Credit: Langdon Clay
One of the many iconic ingredients in Southern cooking is okra. While okra is available year-round in the South, summertime is when the rest of the country can find it in season. In a recent TIME article, Health & Family reporter Alexandra Sifferlin makes the case for okra and explains its global popularity.
[B]ecause it is relatively simple to grow in warm climates, okra is becoming popular in north and south China. ‘It was the preferred vegetable for the Olympic athletes of the Beijing Olympic Games,’ says Kantha Shelke, a food scientist at Corvus Blue LLC and spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). . . . While okra is a popular staple in some international cuisines, Americans are still warming up to the vegetable. According to Shelke, who studies food trends, okra chips are gaining popularity in the appetizer menus of Indian and vegetarian restaurants.
In THE SOUTHERN FOODWAYS ALLIANCE COMMUNITY COOKBOOK, Vishwesh Bhatt of Oxford, Mississippi explains that okra is popular in India and offers a recipe for a dish that is both Indian and Southern.

Sifferlin also shares the health properties and benefits of adding okra to your diet.
‘The fruit and the young leaves of the plant have a wide range of medicinal values and have been used historically to treat many diseases,’ says Shelke. Studies have linked some of okra’s carbohydrates to a range of physiologic effects, including. . . . Protecting brain neurons: ‘Okra is popularly consumed by young students in the Middle East, Far East and South East Asia, where people believe that okra is good for brain function,’ says Shelke.
Okra is not native to the United States and was introduced from Africa via the slave trade. In her book VIBRATION COOKING, Vertamame Smart-Grosvenor refers to okra as "so-called okra", since it goes by a different name in Africa.
If you are wondering how come I say so-called okra it is because the African name of okra is gombo. Just like so-called Negroes. We are Africans. Negroes only started when they got here. I am a black woman. I am tired of people calling me out of my name. Okra must be sick of that mess too. So from now on call it like it is. Okra will be referred to in this book as gombo. Corn will be called maize and Negroes will be referred to as black people.
Smart-Grosvenor offers three simple recipes in her book for preparing "so-called okra" or "gombo." For fried gombos:
"Wash and dry the gombos and sprinkle with corn meal, salt and pepper and fry in peanut oil. You may need to sprinkle with salt again after they are fried."

One of the most popular ways to eat okra—particularly in the South—is pickled okra. According to Susan Puckett in her book, EAT DRINK DELTA, "Deltans can't seem to get enough of the stuff—especially in Cleveland, where there's even a sports bar called the Pickled Okra." To cure "okraphobia," Puckett offers three recipes guaranteed to turn anyone into an okra lover: Blue Levee Fried Okra, Bolivar County Okra Pilaf, and Cleveland Farmers Market Pickled Okra (recipe below).

Whether you prefer crunchy, fried, pickled, boiled, or sautéed, there is sure to be a recipe out there to help you create the perfect okra dish. Need inspiration? Be sure to check out one of the above-mentioned cookbooks for more recipes and ideas.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Short Takes

In an interview on Georgia Public Broadcasting News, ON THE RIM OF THE CARIBBEAN author Paul Pressly argues that we should be looking to the Atlantic Ocean when studying the Colonial period in Georgia's history. Listen to the fascinating interview here.

In a round-up of new and forthcoming books on the history of the University of Georgia, the Athens Banner-Herald highlights the fall book, THROUGH THE ARCH. Check out the article and accompanying slideshow here
The story also made the front page of the paper.

Library Journal gives a starred review to Karen L. Kilcup's FALLEN FORESTS, calling it a "meticulously researched text."

The William and Mary Alumni Magazine features THE FAITHS OF THE POSTWAR PRESIDENTS in the Book Notes section of its summer issue.

"Thanks to his talents as a writer and ethnographer as well as his experience in the policy world, Sommers has produced a highly readable book of theoretical significance. . . . Sommers's strength is his engagement with the transcontinental literature on African youth and urbanization. [STUCK] is vital reading for scholars of Africa, policy makers, and development workers."— Journal of Anthropological Research

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Short Takes

EAT DRINK DELTA makes Paste Magazine's list of "The 10 Best Books We Read in 2013 (So Far)." "Puckett shares local history with tasty takes on everything from Memphis barbeque to Deep South catfish to Vicksburg tomato sandwiches. Can you gain pounds simply reading? You can if you eat pages after you read them."

Jingle Davis discusses her new book, ISLAND TIME, in a recent interview with the Athens Banner-Herald. "'I think most people who come to the island have a sense of what it’s about, the fact that it’s naturally beautiful and there’s so much history there,' the island native said in a recent interview. 'Some people who come to the island are pulled in by the history. It’s just an amazing, magical place,'"

"Many Georgians have long suspected that St. Simons Island packs more interesting history and colorful characters per square, sandy inch than almost any other place in the Deep South. Now there's written proof of it. ISLAND TIME is a deeply researched, lushly photographed new book that tells the beginnings-to-present-day story of the small island south of Savannah that was first occupied by Paleo-Indians nearly 5,000 years ago."—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Coleman Hutchison, author of APPLES AND ASHES, answers questions about the song "Dixie" on Studio 360's "American Icons" program. Listen to the interview here.

Last week, Jane Gerhard and Judy Chicago spoke at the Brooklyn Museum book launch event for Gerhard's new book, THE DINNER PARTY. Series editor Claire Potter attended the event and writes about the experience in her Chronicle of Higher Education blog, Tenured Radical.
It is rare that a historian gets to share the stage with someone she has just written a book about; although as Jane pointed out, her book is really about the iconic status of The Dinner Party (on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum) within popular feminism. . . . [After an hour, Chicago] and Gerhard swam through a crowd of friends and admirers to sign books which all sold out. Now that's what I call a successful feminist event.
In an interview for Guernica, EXIT, CIVILIAN poet Idra Novey compares notes with fellow poet Andrew Zawacki "on imprisonment, technology’s influence, and the elasticity of place."

LOVE, IN THEORY has won a "Bronze Medal" for Book of the Year from ForeWord Reviews. ForeWord Reviews’ 15th annual Book of the Year Awards, judged by a select group of librarians and booksellers from around the country, were announced recently at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago. The winners exemplify the best work coming from today’s independent, university, and small press communities. Congrats, E. J. Levy!

For the second half of its list regarding upcoming university press titles, Library Journal highlights both DIPLOMACY IN BLACK AND WHITE and MY DEAR BOY.

Make sure to check out Poetry Daily this Thursday (July 18). Coleman Barks' poem "Hummingbird Sleep" from his latest collection, HUMMINGBIRD SLEEP, will be featured.

Congratulations to Michael Martone! He has been selected as the 2013 National Winner of the prestigious Indiana Authors Award. The National and Regional winners, along with finalists in the Emerging Author category, will be honored at the fifth-annual Indiana Authors Award Dinner Oct. 26, 2013, at the Central Library in Indianapolis.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Short Takes

UGA Press author Nathalie Dupree (NATHALIE DUPREE'S COMFORTABLE ENTERTAINING, NATHALIE DUPREE'S SOUTHERN MEMORIES, and NEW SOUTHERN COOKING) recently commented on the controversy surrounding food personality Paula Deen in an article for the New York Times:
“It’s almost like a spoof of Southern cooking,” said Nathalie Dupree, the author of “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking,” a cooking teacher and food historian in Charleston, S.C. Ms. Dupree, 73, said that in her childhood fried food was a once-a-week treat, that rich desserts were served even less often, and that vegetables and grains like rice and grits made up most of what was a healthy, farm-based diet.
 “That is not how the people I know cook, and that is not how the people I know speak,” she said.
Ms. Dupree, who is white, is especially incensed by the notion (advanced by many of Ms. Deen’s defenders) that whites who grew up in the segregated South routinely use racist language without attaching any significance to it. “I’m beginning to take umbrage at being lumped together with people who haven’t taken the trouble to learn what is offensive and what isn’t,” she said. “It puts the whole region back again.”
Both THE LARDER and JOHNNY MERCER are highlighted by Library Journal in a recent listing of forthcoming university press titles.

What do cicadas and SUDDEN MUSIC author David Rothenberg have in common? Read this New Yorker article to find out: "Brood Dude."
The Wilmington Star-News announces the publication of NORTH CAROLINA'S AMAZING COAST:
"Just in time for beachcombing season. . . . [NORTH CAROLINA'S AMAZING COAST] is ideal for families seeking to learn a little about nature during a beach visit."

Upcoming events:

July 8, 7:15pm
Georgia Center for the Book
Decatur, GA
ISLAND TIME by Jingle Davis and photographs by Benjamin Galland
Presentation and book signing with Jingle Davis and Benjamin Galland

July 11, 6:30pm
Brooklyn Museum of Art
Brooklyn, NY
THE DINNER PARTY by Jane Gerhard
Discussion with Jane Gerhard and artist Judy Chicago, signing to follow

July 19, 3:00-5:00pm
G.J. Ford Bookshop
St. Simons, GA
ISLAND TIME by Jingle Davis and photographs by Benjamin Galland
Meet and greet

July 20, 2:00pm
Barnes and Noble
Burlington, NC
NORTH CAROLINA'S AMAZING COAST by David Bryant, George Davidson, Terry Kirby Hathaway, Kathleen Angione, and Charlotte Ingram (illustrator)
Signing with co-author Kathleen Angione

July 28, 11:00-12:00pm
Collected Works Bookstore
Santa Fe, NM
Talk and book signing, part of the Journey Santa Fe Discussion