Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri review – a voyage to empowerment

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-05-03 13:35Z by Steven

Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri review – a voyage to empowerment

The Guardian
2019-05-02

Colin Grant


Emma Dabiri records the external and internal pathologising of black hair as a chronic condition. Photograph: Silvana Trevale/The Guardian

Combs, braids and Bob Marley’s bad-hair days are explored in this richly researched cultural history

When Rita Anderson’s teenage boyfriend Bob was growing up in Jamaica’s Trenchtown ghetto, the fair-skinned future Rasta reggae star was so concerned to demonstrate his black heredity that he would get Rita to rub black shoe polish into his hair – so that, she says, it appeared “blacker, coarser and more African”. But after reading Emma Dabiri’s richly researched book, you wonder which model of African hair Bob Marley had in mind. For Dabiri shows that Africans have always paid close attention to the grooming and careful styling of hair, and in Yoruba the phrase for “dreadlocks” is irun were, which translates as “insane person’s hair-do”.

Like Marley, Dabiri also has black and white parents, and has wrestled with her identity. As a child in Ireland, people volunteered opinions about her hair that made her feel ashamed and “like an abomination”. But her personal story merely serves in the book as a jumping off point for an exploration of many subjects, among them colourism and self-worth.

Dabiri, who is a teaching fellow at SOAS, argues that the “desire to conform” to a European “aesthetic which values light skin and straight hair is the result of a propaganda campaign that has lasted more than 500 years”. European powers saw African culture as an impediment to productivity. “Idle husbands”, fumed one colonial administrator, wasted hours setting their wives the task of “braiding and fettishing out their woolly hair”…

Read the entire review here.

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‘Do you ever think about me?’: the children sex tourists leave behind

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Women on 2019-03-03 01:54Z by Steven

‘Do you ever think about me?’: the children sex tourists leave behind

The Guardian
2019-03-02

Margaret Simons, Associate Professor of Journalism
Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Brigette Sicat
Brigette Sicat knows that somewhere, far away, in a barely imaginable place called England, she has a father. Photograph: Dave Tacon

Their fathers visited the Philippines to buy sex: now a generation of children want to track them down

Brigette Sicat will not be going to school today. She sits, knees to chest, in a faded Winnie-the-Pooh T-shirt, on the double mattress that makes up half her home. At night, she curls up here with her grandmother and two cousins, beneath the leaky sheets of corrugated iron that pass for a roof. Today, the monsoon rain is constant and the floor has turned to mud.

Brigette, 10, and her 11-year-old cousin, Arianne, aren’t in school because they have a stomach bug. There is no toilet and no running water, and no means of cooking other than over an open fire. Even when she is well, Brigette is often too hungry to tackle the 10-minute walk to school. Brigette’s mother is a sex worker. And Brigette knows that somewhere, far away, in a barely imaginable but often-thought-of place called England, she has a father. She knows only his given name: Matthew.

Asked what she would say to him, were she able to send him a message, Brigette is at first stumped for words. Then she bursts out in Tagalog: “Who are you? Where are you? Do you ever think about me?” Her grandmother, Juana, her fingers swollen with arthritis and suffering from a lack of medication for her diabetes, sits by her side.

Juana, Arianne, Brigette and Arianne’s brother, Aris, survive on 200 pesos (£3) a day, contributed by Arianne and Aris’s father. (He drives a Jeepney – a public transport vehicle originally converted from Jeeps abandoned by the US military.) Juana, 61, tells me she thinks she may not live much longer. But she wants the girls to finish school, to keep them from working in the bars.

These are the slums of Angeles City in the Philippines, and the children here represent a United Nations of parentage. Their faces tell that story – fair skin, black skin, Korean features, caucasian. That’s because their fathers, like Brigette’s, are sex tourists

Read the entire article here.

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“I walked over to the white side of the room. It was, ironically, where I felt most at home – all my friends, my boyfriend, my flatmates, were white. But my fellow workers had other ideas and I found myself being beckoned over by people on the black side. With some hesitation I crossed the floor.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-02-15 21:09Z by Steven

After studying textiles at Middlesex Polytechnic, [Andrea] Levy worked briefly as a designer, a dresser and a receptionist. But it was not until she was 26 that a racial awareness session with colleagues at an Islington sex education project gave her a “rude awakening”.

“We were asked to split into two groups, black and white.” Levy wrote. “I walked over to the white side of the room. It was, ironically, where I felt most at home – all my friends, my boyfriend, my flatmates, were white. But my fellow workers had other ideas and I found myself being beckoned over by people on the black side. With some hesitation I crossed the floor.”

As someone who was “scared” to call herself a black person, the experience was shocking enough to send her to bed for a week. But the writing course she had begun part-time came to her rescue, sending her back to explore the shame and denial that had marked her childhood and to rediscover her Jamaican roots.

Richard Lea, “Andrea Levy, chronicler of the Windrush generation, dies aged 62,” The Guardian, February 15, 2019. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/feb/15/andrea-levy-chronicler-of-the-windrush-generation-dies-aged-62.

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Andrea Levy, chronicler of the Windrush generation, dies aged 62

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2019-02-15 20:49Z by Steven

Andrea Levy, chronicler of the Windrush generation, dies aged 62

The Guardian
2019-02-15

Richard Lea


Andrea Levy, in Edinburgh in 2010: ‘My heritage is Britain’s story too.’ Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Award-winning author of Small Island and The Long Song had cancer

The writer Andrea Levy, who explored the experience of Jamaican British people in a series of novels over 20 years has died, aged 62, from cancer.

After starting to write as a hobby in her early 30s, Levy published three novels in the 1990s that brought her positive reviews and steady sales. But her fourth novel, Small Island, launched her into the literary big league, winning the 2004 Orange prize, the Whitbread book of the year and the Commonwealth Writers’ prize, selling more than 1m copies around the world and inspiring a 2009 BBC TV adaptation.

On Friday, authors including Candice Carty-Williams, Linda Grant and Malorie Blackman paid tribute, with Blackman remembering a “warm, funny and generous spirit.”…

…After studying textiles at Middlesex Polytechnic, Levy worked briefly as a designer, a dresser and a receptionist. But it was not until she was 26 that a racial awareness session with colleagues at an Islington sex education project gave her a “rude awakening”.

“We were asked to split into two groups, black and white.” Levy wrote. “I walked over to the white side of the room. It was, ironically, where I felt most at home – all my friends, my boyfriend, my flatmates, were white. But my fellow workers had other ideas and I found myself being beckoned over by people on the black side. With some hesitation I crossed the floor.”

As someone who was “scared” to call herself a black person, the experience was shocking enough to send her to bed for a week. But the writing course she had begun part-time came to her rescue, sending her back to explore the shame and denial that had marked her childhood and to rediscover her Jamaican roots…

Read the entire article here.

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Lynette Linton: ‘Why are we not marching in the streets?’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United Kingdom on 2019-01-12 03:28Z by Steven

Lynette Linton: ‘Why are we not marching in the streets?’

The Guardian
2019-01-02

Bridget Minamore


Lynette Linton, incoming artistic director of the Bush Theatre in London, photographed during rehearsals for Sweat. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Fuelled by passion and outrage, the playwright and director is shaking up theatre with works about Windrush to an all-women-of-colour Richard II – and now she’s taking over the Bush in London

Lynette Linton is known for her deep love of Michael Jackson. The director and playwright has said that, in a parallel universe, her ideal job would be the King of Pop’s backup dancer. When I ask her why she loves him so much, she replies as though the answer is obvious. Jackson, she says, was a theatremaker. “If you watch his performances, that’s a show, it’s an experience. Everything from his toe to his eyebrow was activated, and you want your audiences to faint like they did when they saw him.” Does she want the audience for Sweat, her current production at the Donmar Warehouse in London, to faint in the aisles? Linton laughs, and points out that Sweat’s playwright, Lynn Nottage, has signed on to write the book for a forthcoming Broadway musical about Jackson. Everything, it seems, is connected.

To many in British theatre, Linton is one of the industry’s friendliest and most exciting figures. As an assistant director she has worked with Kwame Kwei-Armah and Michael Grandage; she has been an associate director of the Gate in Notting Hill, and she has written for both Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Arcola in east London, her plays exploring mixed-race identity (2017’s Hashtag Lightie), queerness (2013’s Step) and inner-city London’s chicken shops (2015’s Chicken Palace)…

…Much of Linton’s work has touched on who she is and where she comes from, with her forthcoming Windrush films a tribute to her mixed British Caribbean heritage. “My dad is from Guyana, and he sat me and my brother down [as children] and was like, ‘You are black, the world will see you as black.’” The Windrush scandal is something that has affected her deeply. “I spoke to theatre people, saying, ‘Why are we not responding to this? Why are we not in the streets marching?’ They’re sending families home. It makes me feel sick.” Linton’s voice shakes a little. “Even now, it chokes me. The people they’re targeting are elders, man. People are having heart attacks and have died because of this.” Still, her films – which are to be screened at the Royal Court in London – will have “a massive celebration at the core. It was really important to me that we took over a building and celebrated West Indian culture.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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Will it be a black woman who turfs Trump out of the White House?

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2019-01-07 01:20Z by Steven

Will it be a black woman who turfs Trump out of the White House?

The Guardian
2019-01-06

Richard Wolfe


Harris in California, 2018. ‘The key primary test for all candidates will be who can best take the fight to Trump while still talking to voters beyond the reach of his tweets.’ Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Democrat Kamala Harris embodies the driving force behind the party’s electoral surge. She may be their best bet for 2020

Life, as Donald Trump has known it for the last two years, has just changed forever. Quagmired in a government shutdown of his own making, Trump’s ability to manipulate his world is already severely constrained in this very new year. The more he struggles against his new surroundings, the more he sinks.

Last week the president could only watch his beloved cable news channels as a bystander to the biggest tectonic shifts, as the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and Senator Elizabeth Warren became the first candidate to officially emerge to run against him next year. And it won’t be long before the House launches several investigations into corruption and incompetence, while the Mueller investigation continues to tighten several nooses around all things Trumpian…

…But one likely candidate particularly intrigues. Kamala Harris embodies the driving force pushing Democrats to record turnouts in non-presidential contests over the last two years: women of colour. The California senator has served just two years in Congress – like the last freshman senator to win the Democratic nomination, in 2008. But unlike Barack Obama, Harris has a very significant record of public service in her pre-Senate career, serving as her state’s attorney general for six years and as San Francisco’s district attorney for seven years.

While all the Democratic candidates can appeal beyond their own demographics, personal perspectives can and do influence political character. There’s no mystery about why Trump performs so well with older white men. And there should be no surprise that Harris – the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants – has already won the overwhelming support and respect of influential women of colour who will help shape the Democratic primaries…

Read the entire article here.

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What it took to finally confront my family about race and politics

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, United States on 2018-11-21 21:18Z by Steven

What it took to finally confront my family about race and politics

The Guardian
2018-11-21

Sarah Menkedick

‘It is not about politics. It is about saying, ‘This is my life, and this is what I care about.’
‘It is not about politics. It is about saying, ‘This is my life, and this is what I care about.’ Illustration: Grace Helmer

As the mother of a mixed-race daughter, I was troubled by my white relatives’ views. Why was I terrified to speak up?

My four-year-old daughter has recently started to notice skin color. “Mommy,” she points out when we take a shower, “your skin is white, and my skin is brown, and Papi’s skin is brown!” With a four-year-old’s mania for classification, she lines up our arms in order of deepening darkness. She counts: “Two browns, and one white!”

The other day in the car when I said a curse word, she asked me why, and I said it was because Donald Trump was taking children away from their mothers at the border. “Why?” she asked. I tried to distill immigration down to a child’s logic: “Because where they live is not safe. So they come here to have a safer life. But some people get mad that they come here. They don’t want them here.”

“And he takes their kids away?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Her lip trembled. I once made the mistake of reading a library book about a hippo that lost its mother and she cried so hard I finally had to bust out a hidden stash of M&Ms.

I reiterated that some people don’t want these families here, and want to punish them. She did what she does with any situation that is incomprehensible: she just kept asking why, assuming there has to be an explanation that will make sense to her. Finally I said, “Because they have brown skin, like you and Papi. Donald Trump doesn’t like brown skin.”

“He doesn’t like brown skin?” she asked. I nodded.

“He doesn’t like me?” she asked…

Read the entire article here.

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Native American nations “have always had this fear, and a valid fear, that when they accept black people as part of their tribe they are seen as not ‘Indian first’.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2018-11-13 03:25Z by Steven

According to Alaina Roberts of the University of Pittsburgh, Native American nations “have always had this fear, and a valid fear, that when they accept black people as part of their tribe they are seen as not ‘Indian first’.”

Caleb Gayle, “The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity,” The Guardian, November 2, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/02/black-americans-native-creek-nation.

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The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2018-11-13 03:06Z by Steven

The black Americans suing to reclaim their Native American identity

The Guardian
2018-10-02

Caleb Gayle


Rhonda Grayson, with an image of her great-great grandfather Willie Cohee. Photograph: Brett Deering for the Guardian

Their ancestors were black slaves owned by Native Americans. Now they’re suing the Creek nation to fully restore their citizenship

Johnnie Mae Austin and her grandson, Damario Solomon-Simmons, can tell you everything about their ancestry. They can go back as far as 1810, the year Solomon-Simmons’ great-great-great-great-grandfather, Cow Tom, was born. With undeniable pride, they recount the man’s feats of bravery during the civil war, and his leadership within Oklahoma’s Creek population.

In fact, they are so determined to let the world know exactly who Cow Tom was that they’re suing the Creek nation to make sure his descendants aren’t forgotten.

Solomon-Simmons and his grandmother are black, but they argue they’re also Creek, and they’re fighting to reclaim their identity…

Red the entire article here.

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Misty Copeland: the trailblazing ballerina loved by Prince, Obama and Disney

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-12 03:26Z by Steven

Misty Copeland: the trailblazing ballerina loved by Prince, Obama and Disney

The Guardian
2018-11-07

Lyndsey Winship, Dance Critic

‘I had this awakening’ … Misty Copeland.
‘I had this awakening’ … Misty Copeland. Photograph: Danielle Levitt for the Observer

She thinks ballet’s broken – and has a plan to fix it. The star of Disney’s Nutcracker reboot talks about racism, nude shoes and growing up bendy

Ballet was definitely my escape,” says Misty Copeland. “It was the first thing I’d ever experienced in my life that was mine – only mine, not my five other siblings’. It gave me a voice, made me feel powerful.”

When Copeland discovered ballet she was 13, living with her mother and siblings in a motel in California. She was a shy, slight child who rarely spoke and tried not to be noticed. Twenty-three years later, hers is the kind of transformation story even ballet might think far-fetched. In 2015, she became the first black female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre – and with that a spokesperson, poster girl, and bona fide star. Barack Obama sought her out as an adviser, Prince invited her on tour, Spike Lee wants her in his films, and people queue up to meet her at the stage door of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

And now the latest chapter in her real-life fairytale has begun to unfold. Copeland is dancing in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a cinema revamp of the Christmas favourite starring Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman

Read the entire article here.

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