Tag Archives: race

#Mohammed Ali

Guest Post on Mohammed Ali by Herbie, St Albans

If the Bay of Pigs can be seen as a straight right hand to the psychological jaw of White America, then the Las Vegas defeat of the {black Christian} Floyd Patterson by {the black Muslim}  Ali was a perfect left hook to the gut”.——-

The heavyweight champion is a symbol of masculinity to the American male. And a Black champion, as long as he is firmly fettered in his private life, is a fallen lion at every white man’s feet. Through a curious psychic mechanism, the puniest white man experiences himself as a giant killer, as a superman, a great white hunter leading a gigantic ape, the black champion tamed by the white man, around on a leash. But when the ape breaks away from the leash, beats his deadly fists on his massive chest and starts talking to boot, proclaiming himself to be the greatest , spouting poetry and , and annihilating every gun bearer the white hunter puts on him { the white hunter  not being disposed to crawl in the ring himself } a very serious slippage takes place in the white mans self-image – “that by which he defined himself  no longer has a recognisable identity. “IF THAT BLACK APE IS A MAN,” the white hunter asks himself,

“THEN WHAT AM I”.

ELDRIDGE CLEAVER  : ‘SOUL ON ICE’.

MUHAMMED ALI:

UNFORGIVABLY BLACK

Muhammed Ali understood the psychopathology of boxing, its racist metaphor and  tapestry in the  American cultural quilt. he exploited it to the hilt. Right now that Black Power activism may not fit neatly into the outpouring of grief, respect and reflection in the coming days and weeks after his death only two Fridays ago at age 74. but it is one of the most crucial and enduring parts of a legacy that shaped the world.

By the late 1960s, Ali’s unforgiveable blackness  helped him emerge as a transcendent and global figure of black liberation, in doing so became more “black” than James Brown – the godfather of soul. He possessed more charisma than his friends Stokely Carmichael [ Kwame Ture} and Hubert Rap Brown {later Jamil al-Amin} who both tutored the heavyweight champion on the nuances of his own groundbreaking anti-war activism. He proved more accessible than Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, who gave Ali his name as part of a successful effort to pry the young champion from the grips of his most important mentor, Malcolm X.

Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X were, like the title of the recent electrifying history of their friendship, Blood Brothers, whose shared reputations as trouble-makers hid profound intellectual energies and supple understanding of America’s racial politics.

Malcolm’s own star power helped shape Ali’s introduction to the world following his ascension to heavyweight champion in 1964. The two men conducted a public media tour of sorts, grabbing lunch in Harlem, touring the United Nations and verbally sparring with the large media contingent that trailed their every move.


Privately, Malcolm had attempted to school the young Ali on the nuances of the Islamic faith, the contradictions of the Nation of Islam and the burdens of public fame and celebrity. Malcolm taught Ali how to speak truth to power by any means necessary.

This lesson proved fatal in Malcolm’s case, when former colleagues, including Ali himself, shunned him after he left the Nation of Islam. on individual trips to Ghana both meet at the Ambassador Hotel. the one time obsequious gofer chastised his supreme captain{ as was one of Malcolm’s titles} for “betraying Elijah Muhammad”. ——

Talking of Ghana,In  Kumasi, its second largest city Muhammad Ali, was feted. My late iliiterate Grandmother, I am told, joined the kerbside throng and swooned over Muhammed Ali.  My late dad wh was in Britain at that time was so fond of Ali he  had a compendium of his memorabilla, bibliographies’ and I in turn autodidact developed an autodidact love of unnecessary trivia. continued to update this library and I grew up being fed ncyclopaedic facts and figures of  this ballet dancing batterer and his political career, like grain down a foie gras

but I digress.

 

Ali would publicly regret not having stood by his mentor’s side in later years. Tutored by the Black Power Movement’s most revolutionary symbol, however, Ali would find himself unwittingly taking Malcolm’s place as America’s most well-known black Muslim.

Ali’s religious beliefs and Nation of Islam membership sparked a national controversy. White promoters and business interests, who controlled much of the boxing establishment, threatened to cancel future fights. Many journalists defiantly referred to the heavy-weight champ by what he labeled “my slave name” of Cassius Clay. Ali insisted that reporters and boxers “say my name” — including former Cleveland Williams and Ernie Terrell both whom he defeated in humiliating fashion for failing to do so.

In the process, Ali paved the way for a generation of black athletes — most notably Basketball Hall of Famer, Lew Alcindor— to unapologetically embrace their political and religious beliefs and adopt a proud new racial identity and a new name: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Black Power radicalism framed Ali’s decision to refuse the draft. Stokely Carmichael, who was then chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and friend of Ali, popularized chants of “Hell no, we won’t go!” in explosive speeches around the nation. Martin Luther King Jr. soon followed Ali and Carmichael, lending gravitas to the burgeoning anti-war movement through his Riverside Church speech on April 4, 1967 in New York City.

Ali’s refusal to be inducted into the military shortly after turned resistance against the Vietnam War into a movement that transcended boundaries between sports and politics.

In the aftermath of defeating Sonny Liston in 1964, when Ali became heavyweight champion of the world, he famously remarked, “I shook up the world!” Ali’s words anticipated the global response to his anti-war stance, actions that were shaped by his growing participation in the Black Power Movement.

Stripped of his livelihood as a boxer and denied legal protection of being a conscientious objector, Ali went on the offensive. He defiantly confronted the U.S. foreign policy establishment. He outraged U.S. public officials by declaring that the Vietnamese people never “called me a nigger.”

Ali echoed Black Power activists’ critique of American hegemony. He challenged the usefulness of the Cold War as an organizing international principle, and stood in solidarity with the “Third World” against foreign intervention.

Ali became the most visible symbol of Black Power’s radical critique of American imperialism, structural racism and white supremacy. Like the early Malcolm X, he used the Nation of Islam’s belief in racial separatism as a shield against the political violence associated with efforts at racial integration. He wielded black history as a sword against white claims of racial inferiority.

Ali embraced the rough edges and the plainer surfaces of black identity in a manner that was unapologetically, at times unforgivably, black. Captivating the student body at Howard University, Ali ridiculed the oppressive breadth of white supremacy in popular culture, noting how “even the King of the Jungle, Tarzan in black Africa is white!” He then quipped that in heaven, black people were in the kitchen fixing the “milk and honey” for their white counterparts to eat.

Black Power shaped Ali’s global political imagination, offering him a framework to link his religious beliefs, athletic gifts, and outspoken personality. His odyssey helped fuel campus protests, emboldened medal-winning black athletes to raise defiant black-gloved fists at the Mexico City Olympics of 1968, brought anti-war sentiment into American living rooms and contoured wider debates over race and democracy that endure to this day.

Ali never rejected his political radicalism; he merely refined it. He incorporated many themes of his youthful activism into his career as a human-rights activist, philanthropist and global ambassador.

In old age, Ali became a universal icon — one whose legend at times stubbornly resisted the facts of his complicated legacy.

HERBERT AYEMANG

FREE-LANCE WRITER

Guest blog: Herbie Agyemang-Duah

From Herbie, St Albans:

 Donald Trump is getting angry white men very excited. Unfortunately, they won’t decide the election.

In 2016, race trumps class in America.

The most important American political act of this year by some degree was Beyoncé’s performance at the Super bowl.  

Her homage to the 1960’s Black Panthers and her Black Power salute brought the Black Lives Matter -– the protests about the disproportionate number of African American men who die at police hands – campaign to the mainstream. And she foregrounded the fact that the Presidential primaries are – in reality – about whether race matters more than class.

In all of the agonised analysis of what Donald Trump means for the Republican Party,  apart from the fact that the GOP grandees have lost control, one fact is repeated again and again – this has been a long time coming. The Trump Supremacy is not an aberration in Republican history, it is the culmination of a strategy that started with Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy; his 1968 law and order { rein in the black trouble-makers platform } which won the  white working-class Southern voters back from the Democrats with a strong populist appeal rooted in values. And again repeated in 1972  his “Acid, Abortion, and Amnesty” assault on George McGovern saying that Democrats were hippies, un-Christian and pacifists who wanted Vietnam deserters pardoned to Reagan’s “Morning in America” optimistic patriotism (plus Guns, God and Abortion) that populism won over working class white voters. Again race was not off the menu: His “welfare queen” rhetoric referred to single-parent black mothers on social security.

Newt Gingrich even labelled Black President  Barack Obama the “food stamp president” during the 2012 presidential election.

Trump taps into that same strand of patriotic populism – “let’s make America great again” – but he roots his appeal in the anger of white working-class voters dislocated economically by jobs sent overseas. Free trade, off-shoring, immigration – all aspects and impacts of globalisation – have left them bewildered by change and often worse off too. Their rage against the elites is the fuel that has supercharged Trump’s campaign. But as I said the “values” politics has always had a racial inflection. Mainly a dog-whistle, though in Republican strategist Lee Atwater’s infamous Willie Horton attack ad on Michael Dukakis – highlighting a Massachusetts furlough policy that released a black murderer to escape and rape a white woman – it was more like a bugle call. Trump’s wall between the US and Mexico (paid for by the Mexican government) and the ban on Muslims coming to the country are firmly in an ignoble Republican tradition.

The problem for Republicans is that America is changing and is becoming a country where ethnic minorites are the majority. Already the four most populous states that sways elections – California, Florida, New York, and Texas – have Spanish as their de facto second language. That makes being an anti-Hispanic politician – as the Bush family know – setting your face against the future, and therefore electability. The performance of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in the primaries shows that the activist base of their party doesn’t care. Come the presidential election they will reap the whirlwind.

In the Democrat primaries a similar battle between class and race is being fought out. Sanders seeks to harness the same economic rage against globalisation – and he has had some success. Michigan,washinton state and close call in rust-belt Ohio shows that he can bring together a coalition of blue collar and middle-class voters who support his demands for economic reform. The problem, as votes who cast their votes in Missouri and and the South show,  that majority of African-Americans have a completely different take on what matters. For them race trumps class and it has to be addressed directly.

Clay Shirky, in a fascinating Twitter “essay” notes  that Sanders’ early response on Black Lives Matter was:

“Black lives matter, White lives matter, Hispanic lives matter”

The equalization of those lives in that statement eradicates race as a factor. African American voters listening get the message – Sanders doesn’t get it.

Contrast that with Hillary in Harlem:

“We still need to face the painful reality that African-Americans are nearly three times as likely as whites to be denied a mortgage.

“Something’s wrong when the median wealth for black families is just a tiny fraction of the median wealth of white families.

“Something is wrong when African-American men are far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than white men convicted of the same offenses.

“Black kids get arrested for petty crimes, but white CEOs get away with fleecing our entire country — there is something wrong.

“Just imagine with me for a minute if white kids were 500 percent more likely to die from asthma than black kids — 500 percent. Imagine if a white baby in South Carolina were twice as likely to die before her first birthday as an African-American baby. Imagine the outcry. Imagine the resources that would flood in.

“Now, these inequities are wrong, but they’re also immoral. And it’ll be the mission of my presidency to bring them to an end. We have to begin by facing up to the reality of systemic racism.”

That, in a nutshell, is why Hillary is beating Sanders in the black and Latino sections of town, especially in the southern united states  and why probably because of race, she will beat Donald Trump in a presidential election. In America in 2016 race trumps class.

#OscarsSoWhite

 

Inclusion is Hollywood’s Second-Favourite Activity

Guest Post by Herbert Agyemang-Duah, St Albans.

The Oscars have, for the second straight year, failed to nominate any actors of color. It’s not that they’re trying to be racist. It’s just that they can’t help it.

For the second year in a row, the Academy has handed out a whopping total of zero nominations to non-white performers in the four acting categories.

After accusations of racism from the mainstream media and Twitter’s “OscarsSoWhite” hashtag sullied last year’s awards, it’s hard to understand how the eternally progressive Hollywood community behind the Oscars couldn’t correct last year’s error and offer a measly one of those 16 nominations to an actor of color. How did this happen? How did this group of racial-diversity-embracing liberals offer up the exact same offense this year?

To answer that question, imagine you’re a person who really values religious inclusivity. In fact, you value it so much that your second favorite activity in the world is inviting Muslim and Jewish folks over to your house for dinner.

The problem, however, is that your favorite activity in the world is serving your dinner guests a piping hot plate of barbecued pork. In fact, you love doing this so much that you can’t stop yourself from offering the aforementioned porcine cuisine to dinner guests you know have religious objections to eating it.

So even though you really want to practice religious inclusion, and even though you don’t want to get yelled at for offering your Muslim and Jewish guests unclean food again, you fall into the same pit because you just can’t bring yourself to change the dinner menu. It’s not that you’re trying to exclude your Muslim and Jewish dinner guests. It’s just that exclusion happens when you won’t sacrifice the thing you love if that’s what it takes to embrace your guests.

This is precisely why the Oscars have, for the second straight year, failed to nominate any actors of color. It’s not that they’retrying to be racist. It’s just that they can’t help it. Of course the Academy wants to give statues to non-white actors and actresses. Of course it would love to have another Hattie McDaniel moment or hear another Halle Berry style acceptance speech.

Hollywood’s favorite thing is giving awards for performances in movies about upper-class 1940s lesbian college professors who bravely battled both unjust banking practices and homophobia.

But giving awards to people of color is currently the Academy’s second-favorite thing in the world. Its favorite thing is giving awards for performances in movies about upper-class 1940s lesbian college professors who bravely battled both unjust banking practices and homophobia—bonus points if they were persecuted by political or religious conservatives, double bonus points if they worked in Hollywood, and triple bonus points if they existed in real life.

Because the Academy insists on doing its favorite thing, because it insists on giving all its awards to films of this nature, it can’t help but exclude those of ethnicities that weren’t terribly prevalent in 1940s upper-class British academic circles or on McCarthy-era blacklists. So, just like the dinner host who won’t sacrifice his favorite thing (serving pork to his guests) for the sake of his second favorite thing (respecting their religious beliefs), the Oscars have no choice but to fail at racial inclusivity as long as they prefer to shower awards on cinematic stories that exclude most of the races.

For example, it’s not that the Academy was trying to exclude “Creed’s” Michael B. Jordan from the best actor race. It’s just that Eddie Redmayne played a kind-of-real-life transgender caucasian artist, and Oscar voters couldn’t possibly have taken that off the menu include someone who played a character as boring as a pretend black boxer from God knows where.

Steve Jobs’ story needed to be told again because the first time it had Ashton Kutcher in it.

Similarly, while in a down year Hollywood would gladly have nominated “Concussion’s” Will Smith for playing real-life forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, Bryan Cranston played an ever-so-terribly-persecuted-in-real life Hollywood Communist in “Trumbo,” and there’s no way the Academy could have overlooked a performance of that historic significance just to bring more diversity to Oscar night.

Dalton Trumbo’s story, after all, needed to be told, as did Lili Elbe’s (“The Danish Girl”). Steve Jobs’ story needed to be told again because the first time it had Ashton Kutcher in it. And it’s hardly the Academy’s fault blacks were too busy not being allowed to be screenwriters in 1950s Hollywood or that Latinos failed to adequately represent themselves in 1920s Scandinavian LGBTQ circles or that no one of Middle Eastern descent would have been believable as the half-German inventor of the iMac. (Unrelated fun fact: Steve Jobs was also half Syrian! Who knew?) Donald Trump take note.

Granted, one might argue Hollywood could fix its race problem by essentially keeping the barbecue rub recipe but swapping out pork for a more inclusive meat—in other words, by casting non-white actors in the kind of roles it most desperately wants to award. In theory, there’s no reason film studios couldn’t make this happen.

There’s no reason historical details like ‘Bruce Jenner wasn’t black’ should diminish the power of a biopic called ‘Caitlyn’ with Idris Elba in the titular role. he goesw on to say

If historical inaccuracies like Steve Jobs not saying most of the stuff he said in “Steve Jobs” didn’t diminish the film’s Oscar-worthiness, there’s no reason historical details like “Bruce Jenner wasn’t black” should diminish the power of a biopic called “Caitlyn” with Idris Elba in the titular role.

As much as the Academy would love to support a project of this nature, however, filmmaking is a business, studios need to make a profit to survive, and the harsh economic reality of awards season is that audiences simply aren’t lining up to see films with Oscar-worthy performances from actors of color like they are from white actors. Or the ‘right’ audiences aren’t?

What is the numbers story? “Creed,” brought in  $106 million domestically, as opposed to “Spotlight’s” $28 million, “Steve Jobs’s” $17 million (on a $30 million budget), “The Danish Girl’s” $8 million, “Trumbo’s” $7, “Carol’s” $7, “Room’s” $5, and “45 Years’s” staggering $341,000. Okay, those might have been seven bad examples, but you get the point—Hollywood and the Oscars really want to give non-white actors an opportunity to shine. Audiences just won’t let them?

Perhaps the Oscars wouldn’t have to be so white if people of color could figure out a way to make their history a little more transgendery.

So of course the Academy wants to be more racially inclusive. Racial inclusivity is, after all, its second favorite thing in the world. It’s just that, right now, the Academy’s favorite thing is hurling golden statues at films whose settings and characters prevent them from including any blacks or Latinos or Asians or Native Americans or anyone of an integument darker than translucent ivory.

So perhaps those inclined to once again fill Twitter with the “OscarsSoWhite” hashtag should show a little compassion towards the poor members of the Academy who, bless their hearts, just can’t let religious inclusion trump serving pork for dinner.

If we want to fix this problem, perhaps it’s time to look to the other side of the table. Perhaps it’s time to ask those Jewish and Muslim dinner guests to try a bite of the unclean cuisine. Perhaps the Oscars wouldn’t have to be so white if people of color could figure out a way to make their history a little more transgendery or Hollywoody or English-accented, or, at the very least, a little more staring-at-walls-and-coming-to-terms-with-things. – – – –

MEMO TO SPIKE LEE:  enough of the black angst, cultural clichés. enough of the the uncle toms, coons, mammies  and bucks images of your people. it might make you moolahs  but it reinforces and reinscribes  negative sterotypes. those age old racist caricatures are passé even as  parodies or political statements. a new script that transcends the tribe might score you brownie points.  {pun intended} and give your Black actors Oscars.A

Another note: Audiences, black or white or Hispanic don’t want to be preached at; or forcibly streamed through your kaleidoscope of Black consciousness. . Anyway Agit-prop doesn’t make money and that is why Hollywood doesn’t promote them.

HERBERT CHARLES AGYEMANG-DUAH

FREELANCE WRITER /  EDUCATOR / SOCIAL ACTIVIST / MUSICOLOGIST

#UKIP Myth 2: #Race

Leo is two and eight months and still hasn’t noticed skin colour. He knows his colours, and he’s got no qualms about making personal comments, remarking loudly on beards, moustaches, moles, hats, shoes and walking sticks. Very occasionally he talks about hair colour. ‘I’ve got brown hair. Mummy’s got brown hair. Daddy’s got…. grey hair!’

On Saturday we were coming back from the big Quaker meeting in Friends House in London and Albert pulled up in his car to talk to us. Albert is from Trinidad. After the chat, Leo asked me, ‘He’s a boy?’ ‘Yes, he’s a boy. He’s a man.’ ‘He got a willy?’ ‘Yes.’ With that cleared up, Leo went back to talking about trains.

The Racist Animal Lover by Asbjorn Gundersen

The Racist Animal Lover by Asbjorn Gundersen

Adventures in Tory Land: Democracy in Middle England, by Katie Barron and Asbjorn Gundersen, is available as an ebook and paperback through Amazon and in Waterstones St Albans. Yours for £2. For a laugh, click here! http://amzn.to/1GpXY1F