How America Bought and Sold Racism, and Why it Still Matters

Excerpted with permission from Collectors Weekly Today, very few white Americans openly celebrate the horrors of black enslavement—most refuse to recognize the brutal nature of the institution or actively seek to distance themselves from it. “The modern American sees slavery as a regrettable period when blacks worked without wages,” writes Dr. David Pilgrim, the vice president […]

Anita Pointer: Civil Rights Activist, Pop Star and Serious Collector of Black Memorabilia

Excerpted with permission from Collectors Weekly At one point, Anita Pointer—lead vocalist and writer for the Pointer Sisters’ top 10 hit “I’m So Excited”—was one of the most famous women in the world. During the early ’80s, she and her sisters June and Ruth tore up the pop music charts with singles like “Jump (For […]

Sex and Suffering: The Tragic Life of the Japanese Courtesan

This article is excerpted with permission from Collectors Weekly It’s difficult to get a window into the world of Edo-Period Japanese prostitutes without the gauzy romantic filter of the male gaze. The artworks in the new San Francisco Asian Art Museum exhibition, “Seduction: Japan’s Floating World,” were made by men for men, the patrons of the Yoshiwara […]

Women Who Conquered the Comic Book World

[This article is excerpted with permission from Collectors Weekly. See the full article here.] The day after she returned from the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International, comics icon Trina Robbins sits down with me outside at a café just around the corner from her home in San Francisco’s Castro District. As both a comics creator and historian, […]

Women in the Skies: The Birth of the Stewardess

This article was excerpted with permission from Collectors Weekly. Read the full story here. Commercial airlines go back as far as 1909, with the first civilian-passenger flight in the United States taking place in 1914. According to AvStop.com, in the United States, the sons of wealthy magnates served as the earliest flight attendants, known as “couriers,” […]

Why Aren’t Stories Like “12 Years a Slave” Told at Plantation Museums?

Watching 12 Years a Slave, winner of the best picture Oscar Sunday night, it was almost as if I were there at Edwin Epps’ cotton plantation in the 1840s, walking past the gorgeous white mansion in the lush, green Louisiana landscape. Surrounded by cypress trees, I could hear the cicadas, and very nearly feel the […]

Singing the Lesbian Blues in 1920s Harlem

When Gertrude “Ma” Rainey — known as “The Mother of Blues”— sang, “It’s true I wear a collar and a tie … Talk to the gals just like any old man,” in 1928′s “Prove It on Me,” she was flirting with scandal, challenging the listener to catch her in a lesbian affair. It might not seem […]

“Gatsby” Gets Flappers Wrong

Have you heard? There’s a new swell in town named Gatsby, and he’s bringing flapper flair back into fashion. Baz Luhrmann’s latest cinematic spectacle—his take on The Great Gatsby—promises to be a sensational commercial for Prada and Brooks Brothers, who partnered with Luhrmann’s wife, costume designer Catherine Martin, on the film’s clothing. But if you think […]

Why Ordinary Things Go Pink

Not long after Bic launched its new line of “Bic for Her” ballpoint pens—boasting an “elegant design” that “features a thin barrel to fit a women’s hand”—women and men alike hopped on Amazon.com to bombard the product page with hilarious and brilliantly snarky reviews. One woman writes, “Someone has answered my gentle prayers and FINALLY […]