Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sunny Nash Honored with a Pearce Award

Silhouette of Sunny Nash by Keith Jerome Lilly
Silhouette of Sunny Nash
On-Location at Khmer Conference
Photo by Keith Jerome Lilly, Founder
Developing Future Leaders
Sunny Nash was honored by Jeannine Pearce, Long Beach, California, City Council Member, 2nd District, at the 2nd Annual Khmer Parent Association Mother and Daughter Conference, where Nash delivered the keynote address and exhibited artifacts from her mother's archive.

Nash began preserving artifacts of her cultural heritage after studying archaeology interpretation and preservation techniques at the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, University of London and U.S. Department of the Interior. Nash's specialized training includes material artifact preservation such as photographs, historical papers, books and objects, as well as digital archival systems for images, text documents, sound recordings and video.

"I realized, even as a child, that I wanted to leave my mark," Nash said. "And in order to leave a mark, I knew I had to make a mark. I observed my grandparents, parents and others in my life to see how to create something of value to leave behind. And to make a record of it, I knew I had to save things like my people did. My mother saved her academic papers, among many other articles that I have the privilege of preserving for others to appreciate and to study far into the future."

Littie Nash (Sunny Nash's Mother)
University of Texas
State Licensing - Food Safety
Artifacts Sunny Nash is preserving from her mother's archive emphasize two main points. Part of the exhibit displays her mother's academic achievements and professional training certificates, which she acquired at a time when such training for women was scarce and employment in those professional areas was quite limited for women until after the Civil Rights Movement. 

"I watched my mother meet the postman who delivered her books and lessons for her correspondence courses," Nash said. "Those methods of study resembled today's online study. In the 1950s and 1960s, though, there was no Internet. It was all handled by mail. The reason my mother chose correspondence courses was because many schools and professional training programs did not allow people of color or women. And some professional training correspondence programs were more concerned about validating tuition fees than racial or gender identity records."

African American, Native American and Irish Artifacts
of Littie Nash 
(Sunny Nash's Mother)
The second point of Nash's exhibit underlines the fact that few people are of a single culture. 

"Race and ethnicity make up only a portion of a person's cultural heritage," Nash said. 
"The unfortunate truth is that so many people ignore part of who they are or they are not aware of all they are or they fail to adequately acknowledge the culture in which they live. If we could possibly start to appreciate all that we are, then maybe we can increase our appreciation of who others are."

The annual Khmer Parent Association Mother and Daughter Conference, which presents focus groups, mother-daughter discussion panels, question and answer sessions, exhibits and other activities, is a resource for all women and girls to share experiences. The Khmer Parent Association was co-founded by Chan Hopson, who has been executive director of the organization for more than ten years and organizes the annual event. Hopson and many others who participated in planning and executing the Khmer event all understand the importance of women recognizing and sharing their concerns, stories and accomplishments. 

"And because of my participation in the Khmer conference," Nash said, "my mother and I were both celebrated with a Pearce Award."

Sunny Nash Award
Long Beach, California, City Council Member, 2nd District, Jeannine Pearce's civic theme is: "Building a Long Beach that works for everyone starts by bringing together all stakeholders to develop creative solutions. Our priorities include promoting a thriving local economy with good jobs, establishing safer neighborhoods, and increasing smart, local investment. This is your seat at the table, join us in the conversation!"

Sunny Nash said the Khmer Parent Association Mother and Daughter Conference was particularly significant to her because it gave her the chance to reflect on what her mother meant to her and what her mother did for her; and to share with others how her mother's lessons were less about telling and more about showing. 

"Because of my mother's influence, I have assumed the responsibility of preserving the records she and my father, my grandparents and my ancestors left," Nash said. "Preserving what they felt important is the least I can do for those who struggled before me and managed to keep records of what they did. When we are all gone, those records will stand to illustrate to humanity that we lived and will represent the story of me and my people--who we were, what we did and how we did it." 


Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s
Bigmama Didn’t Shop
At Woolworth’s
Sunny Nash, former nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, is the author of Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s about life during the Civil Rights Movement with her part-Comanche grandmother. Nash’s book, collected worldwide by museums, universities and libraries, is selected by the American Association of University Presses as a Book for Understanding U.S. Race Relations, and recommended by the Miami-Dade (Florida) Public Library System as a Book for Native American Collections.

Sunny Nash earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communication, Texas A&M University; Postgraduate Media Studies Certificate, Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications, Arizona State University; Postgraduate Diploma, Instructional Technology, University of California, San Diego; and Postgraduate Digital Literacy Studies Certificate, Simmons College, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Boston; and international studies include Intellectual Property Law, World Intellectual Property Organization Academy, Geneva, Switzerland; Diplomacy, Culture and Communication, United Nations; Research Methodology, Digital Preservation, Online Archival Information Systems, University of London; and Archival Data Governance, National Archives of Australia, Melbourne.

© 2017 Race Relations in America 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sunny Nash Honored by the California Senate

Senator Ricardo Lara 33rd District State of California

Senator Ricardo Lara
33rd District
State of California Senate
Senator Ricardo Lara, 33rd District, State of California Senate, honored Sunny Nash for her dedication to building strong families throughout the City of Long Beach; and outstanding contribution to the 2nd Annual Khmer Parent Association Mother and Daughter Conference to empower women. Nash was presented the award at the conference, where she delivered the Keynote Speech and exhibited cultural artifacts preserved from her mother's archive. 

Long Beach, known as the Cambodian capital of the U.S., is home to the largest Khmer community in the world, outside the Southeast Asian nation, Cambodia.

Sunny Nash Author-Journalist

Sunny Nash
"This opportunity allowed me to share my mother's lessons and display some of the educational credentials she earned during the Jim Crow era when few women of any color were accepted into certain types of professional programs and institutions of higher education," Nash said. "It was because of her and others like her that I am able to stand before audiences today and say, you can do it, too."

Mothers and grandmothers help us form significant impressions, not only about our own culture, but also about the culture we share with others, Sunny Nash said.

Academic Credentials of Littie Nash, Mother of Sunny Nash
Exhibition of Artifacts from the Archive of
Littie Nash, 
Mother of Sunny Nash
"I was delighted to accept conference organizer, Chan Hopson's, challenge to speak to the multi-cultural audience," said Nash, former nationally syndicated newspaper columnist for Hearst and Knight-Ridder. 

"When a person is asked to speak on a topic, it gives the person  a chance to develop deeper appreciation for the subject," Nash said. "But I am not sure how it is possible for me to appreciate my mother more than I already do for encouraging me throughout my life and career, and lighting my path through her own persistence."

Sunny Nash earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communication, Texas A&M University; Postgraduate Media Studies Certificate, Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications, Arizona State University; Postgraduate Diploma, Instructional Technology, University of California, San Diego; and Postgraduate Digital Literacy Studies Certificate, Simmons College, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Boston. Sunny Nash’s international studies include Intellectual Property Law, World Intellectual Property Organization Academy, Geneva, Switzerland; Diplomacy, Culture and Communication, United Nations; Research Methodology, and Digital Preservation, Archival Information Systems, University of London; and Archival Data, National Archives of Australia, Melbourne.

Bigmama Didn’t Shop  At Woolworth’s by Sunny Nash

Bigmama Didn’t Shop
At Woolworth’s
"I am always proud to talk about my mother, show off her achievements and share with others how she inspired me to go farther than I ever thought I would," said Nash, author of Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s about life during the Civil Rights Movement with her part-Comanche maternal grandmother, a legacy to all of her ancestors. Nash’s book--collected worldwide by museums, universities and libraries--is selected by the American Association of University Presses as a Book for Understanding U.S. Race Relations, and recommended by the Miami-Dade (Florida) Public Library System as a Book for Native American Collections.  

Certificate of Recognition
State of California Senate
"The Khmer Parent Association Mother and Daughter Conference gave me a chance to talk about my mother," Nash said. "That occasion was made special by all those eager faces in the audience learning about this incredible woman who was so important to my development as a professional woman and human being. And for talking about one of my favorite and most beloved subjects, my mother, I was awarded this State of California Senate Citation of Recognition by Senator Ricardo Lara."

Representing Southeast Los Angeles County, California State Senator Ricardo Lara is one of the most influential members of the California Senate. He chairs the Appropriations Committee, and serves on numerous other committees--Energy, Utilities and Communications, Governance and Finance, Banking and Financial Institutions, and Governmental Organization. Senator Lara was presented a Harvey Milk Champion of Change Award by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House in 2013.  A graduate of San Diego State University in Journalism, Spanish and Chicano Studies, Senator Ricardo Lara chairs of the California Latino Legislative Caucus

© 2017 Race Relations in America

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What is Race? Part Three: My Mother - On Jim Crow's Children

Jim Crow had many children.

"We're all Jim Crow's children," my mother said to me when I was a little girl. "I mean the black ones, the brown ones, the white ones and all those in between."

"Jim Crow is not my daddy," I said.

"Jim Crow may not be your daddy," she said. "But you're still Jim Crow's child."

Mason-Dixon Line and the perpetuation of slavery in the United States
Mason-Dixon Line

Many people think the only children affected by Jim Crow laws were black children. This is simply a myth. Jim Crow's children include everyone who lived in any part of Jim Crow's world and went through America's public education system--past and present, North and South, urban, suburban and rural. Most people are not aware of the impact of Jim Crow laws on their own lives, and the lives of their ancestors. And some of those ancestors may have been responsible for creating and enacting Jim Crow laws without realizing the lasting effects inside their very own homes for generations to come.

Deep-seated feelings of superiority and inferiority are the reasons we still need to have conversations about race relations in America.

Sophia Gordon Runaway Slave
Sophia Gordon Runaway Slave
Washington, D.C.
"Some people don't know there was also slavery in northern states above the Mason-Dixon Line. Don't know what that line demarcates?" My mother asked.

I shrugged.

"The Mason-Dixon Line is the cultural line separating the North and the South," she said. "It was established by a 1763 and 1767 survey to settle a border dispute between states, and had everything to do with racial classification in the United States and the perpetuation of slavery, the lifeblood of the nation, North and South. Because Washington D.C. is below the Mason-Dixon Line, there was slavery conducted within your nation's capitol.

"What?" I asked, getting interested.

"That's right," she said. "Even though Jim Crow laws have been erased from the books, their influence on all of us is still with us. This includes people who are products of the old segregated system in both the North and the South, many of their children, their children's children and so on and so on." 

"I hate them!" I said.

"Try to understand what the next guy is going through," she said. 

"Why do I care what the next guy is going through?" I asked her.

"Self preservation," she said.

"Self preservation?" I asked.

"If you understand what the next guy is going through," she said. "You may be able to guess his next move. If you can guess his next move, maybe you'll have time to do something."

To define race, cast a wide net. 

Racial classification was so blatant in the United States during the early 20th Century that southern Italians were classified as a different nationality from northern Italians, who thought themselves to be more “white” and more closely related to the French and Germans. This classification seems to have been based on shades of complexion—fair-skinned northern Italians as opposed to dark-skinned southern Italians. 

Home of an Italian Rag Picker via Preus Museum

In some cases of Italian racial classification, there seemed to have been a reliance on shades of complexion—fair-skinned northern Italians as opposed to dark-skinned southern Italians with latter receiving lower wages and harsher treatment economically and legally. Based on these criteria, segregation was imposed, which affected education and social services.

Racial categorizing led to the largest mass lynching of any group in the history of the United States in 1891. Although African Americans were customary targets, Southern Italian immigrants were targeted as well and many scholars believe the color of their skin played a significant part in the outcome of the injustice they sustained. Eleven southern Italian merchants were hanged in New Orleans and their corpses placed on public display. In fact, in the 1890s, 22 Southern Italians were lynched in parishes around Louisiana. 

Gerald R. Gems
Sport and the Shaping
of Italian American Identity
 (Sports and Entertainment)
Southern Italian immigrants were called guineas, one of the most offensive racial slurs be to coined against Italian Americans, referring to the Guinea Coast of Africa as they entered plantation life in Louisiana and other rural agricultural regions. 

Gerald R. Gems said in his book on page 62, Sport and the Shaping of Italian American Identity, "Many Sicilians disembarked at New Orleans, and took up work on the sugar plantations of Louisiana, where hard physical labor became known as nigger work or dago work. At the 1889 state constitutional convention, representatives asserted, "according to the spirit of our meaning when we speak of a white man's government [the Italians] are as black as the blackest Negro in existence."

Italians, like African Americans in Louisiana and other parts of the Deep South, could not hold public office or vote and were restricted to segregated housing, employment and schools. 

A tactic of racial classification was to pit one group against another as a practical power strategy to control human behavior and resources,  and control the region's politics.  On the other hand, however, over time, some members of manipulated white, black and other groups have developed deep psychological mistrust, resentment and feelings of superiority or inferiority toward each other that have lasted throughout history. 

White Sharecroppers
White Sharecroppers

After Emancipation, the elite class, who had everything to lose by the commingling of different races of poor people, encouraged poor whites to think of and treat former slaves as beneath them to make themselves feel closer to the ruling class even though these poor whites did not own land, had no lines of credit, had no employment, were illiterate and could not vote--no better off than sharecropping former slaves, but deceived into thinking they had a God-given right to expect more and to do better than their black counterparts. And when white poor saw black poor doing better than them, it caused hostility, jealously and violent retaliation, as in Ku Klux Klan  rapes, cross burning and lynching, actions they felt justified in taking to protect the competitive edge of their favored group. 

Being classified as better than former slaves and closer to the ruling class was a mere deception. It would take many generations for poor whites to assimilate. Seldom did the wealthy ruling class have more social or marital relationships with poor whites than they did with blacks. Neither group was equal to the wealthy class and would never be. Neither group could, at that time or this, reasonably hope to amass the fortunes that drifted down through the generations, except today through great sports ability, entertainment talent, technology, social media, luck of the lottery, crime or a good education. Then watch what happens as the nouveau riche immediately join the old rich in political maneuvering. Nothing personal, though, because the rich are not required or expected to deal with the poor of any color. It is more of a class issue than a color issue and always has been.

The dominant class considered some immigrants as undesirable for assimilation as African Americans because of immigrants' dark complexion, foreignness of their customs and former cotton-picker status, regardless of the white racial classification these immigrants may have claimed.

They are all children of Jim Crow.

Child Labor Laws and Discrimination
Lewis Hine 1900 Photo
Pennsylvania Child Coal Miners
Further, in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the poor white class would be utilized by the wealthy to control and indoctrinate all other ethnic groups that came to these shores or were brought to this land or were indigenous to it, including reservation-restricted Native Americans and fresh-of-the-plantation former slaves. 

Children of poor white immigrants were enslaved in factories and mines for little more than a meal and a few pennies a day to help take care of desperately impoverished families.

Also included in the farm working class were Eastern European, Asian, Pacific Islander, Mexican and Middle Eastern immigrants, who were denied full citizenship rights before they were assimilated, if they were allowed to assimilate when these families came to America to work on plantations after the Civil War. These immigrants' children were customarily denied schooling and forced to work in unsafe conditions not much better than slaves or former slaves. However, like other white persons, they were indoctrinated by the Jim Crow tradition and some became active in the promotion of the Jim Crow laws separating them from African Americans and other groups that could be readily identified by physical features. 

Chinese Immigrant Farm Laborers
Chinese Immigrant Farm Family

Indentured Chinese were imported to build California railroads and levees. Afterwards, they were burned out or driven away. Mississippi Delta plantation owners imported them to Delta farms to replace slaves after Emancipation. Through labor agents, the same tactic was used to import Italian, Lebanese and Syrian indentured servants to Delta plantations to pick cotton alongside black workers who had stayed on farms after being freed.

When the Great Depression hit in 1929, immigrant families, who were already entangled in tenant farm agreements, were further victimized by a crashed economy. Unable to pay their sharecropping farm store debts, desperate indentured immigrants could not leave the sharecropping plantation system. Many ran away, leaving in the dead of night, and tried to find work in other locations. However, at that time, hungry people filled cities looking for free food, public relief and charity handouts. 

Jobs had become scarce for all workers and especially for immigrants, who were customarily subjected to increased Jim Crow discrimination and bigotry in times of economic distress. So, like former slaves, some unfortunate immigrant farm workers stayed on plantations where they could get a meal, even though, the meal cost them their freedom and held them in virtual slavery by dishonest bookkeeping of plantation owners who operated in the same fashion as before the Civil War. The difference was the workers were not exactly slaves; they were in debt to the farm store, a predicament also shared by a large number of poor white families who owned no land. Assault on the citizenship and political participation of former slaves and others through Jim Crow laws, a legal system designed to maintain separation and justify discrimination against nearly freed and newly freed U.S. citizens, continued until adequate education was provided for former slaves and immigrants.

Jim Crow laws continued into the 1960s in public education, employment, housing, justice, voting and all other aspects of American society. In the past, using skin color, race, ethnicity, gender, culture, language or other physical difference to determine how a person was treated made discrimination rather easy. Although separation, discrimination and treatment can still be seen along the lines of skin color, race, culture, ethnicity or language, these factors are not so easily identified in today's world with bi- and multiracial, biological, step, in-law, and extended families. It is not uncommon to find mix-raced families, exhibiting a variety of physical features and interracial relationships. In fact, not long ago, an elderly white man was stopped and questioned by police when they saw him walking his young black granddaughter home from school.

The United States, no longer comprised of homogeneous groups that keep their distance from each other, is the home of mixed groups of Jim Crow's children struggling to find identity in a nation that still struggles with questions of difference. This is not to say that there were no mixed-race people in the past. There were. The difference today is that the members of these families accept and acknowledge each other in a way they never could in the days of old Jim Crow. In fact, many ethnic people passed as white when their physical features allowed them to do so, hiding their true identities from new families, offspring, friends and the government.

"Who was Jim Crow, anyway?" I asked my mother.

"That's a conversation for another day," she said.

Be sure to read other conversations with my mother:

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Set Priorities for the New Year

Set priorities! Achieve goals, ignite career, sell books, enjoy life!

Sunny Nash, Author-Journalist
Sunny Nash, Author-Journalist

New Year resolutions are for other people. I set priorities that change as life changes to reach my goals.

Yes, it is coming upon that time again--the Holidays, eating too much and never-to-be-kept New Year's resolutions that do not work. 

When I first started my career, I made resolutions for everything from how many pages I would produce to how many query letters I would send out. Then I discovered resolutions were like promises--often made hurriedly to have something to recite at a New Year's Eve party or to my colleagues after the holiday--made to be broken. A popular new year resolution I hear people make, year after year, is to lose weight. Why? So you can fit into some long-out-of-style, ugly-by-current-standards outfit in the back of the closet? 

Read what people have said about new year resolutions.

Each day of the new year, I have a sub-set of my larger life or career goals, around which I set priorities for my day's activities. I continue this practice even as the year grows old. As a writer, I edit something or write a few new pages to be sure to further a project along each day. Usually, it is not my intention that day or any given day to finish anything, but I hope to push some work each day closer to the finish.

Set priorities to make sense of your life.

scales of justice
Setting Priorities
Resemble Scales 
Some Priorities Weigh 
More Than Others
Going through life without priorities must be like tumbling around in a vacuum cleaner with dust swirling all around your head. How does one organize dust? And who would want to? 

One priority I carry from year to year is learning. 

Without setting priorities, nothing much is possible, one reason for setting them and changing them as as life changes. I can't tell someone else how to live but I can tell you how I try to manage my goals and priorities. My goals and priorities include those elements that I know, enjoy and do not feel are a burden. However, I try to include the unfamiliar as a stimulant to increase my interest in the activity. The unfamiliar area makes me stretch my imagination and knowledge. Don't be afraid of research.

pic of making a lise
Setting Priorities and Goals
Helps Organize
Thoughts and Plans
I start with a detailed list of things I want to accomplish. From my detailed list, I extract a simpler working list, not written in concrete because I know I must remain flexible. Life requires flexibility. Setting priorities is an ongoing task that I edit and change as necessary.

One reason I write lists by hand on a piece of paper with a pen or pencil is that the writing exercise places me in direct contact with my goals and priorities, making the process a very personal communication with my soul. The contact I feel between me and my list produces a certain harmony of thoughts.