Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blogging Break & first black minister to serve in a Dutch cabinet


I am going to take a blogging break, but it doesn't mean no news will be posted. Sibo is also blogging. But before the break I am going to post some information of an old exhibition of the Dutch Rijksmuseum in 2009.

The highlight of the exhibition was the earliest known photograph from Surinam of a young married couple in 1846. (The picture on the right is their son, the only Surinamese minister to serve in a Dutch cabinet. He also became a Vice Admiral.)

This photo, a so-called daguerreotype, depicts Maria Louisa de Hart, the daughter of a mulatto female slave whose freedom had been purchased, and the Jewish plantation owner Mozes-Meijer de Hart. Her husband was Johannes Ellis, the son of Abraham de Veer, who was a Dutchman and the governor of Elmina in what is now Ghana, and the Ghanaian Fanny Ellis. Their son, Abraham George Ellis (1846-1916) was the first and only Surinamese minister to serve in a Dutch cabinet (1902-1905, Minister of the Navy). Until now, it was not known that any pre-1860 photographs from Surinam existed.

The photo of the young married couple is not exactly a celebration of black Surinamese history. Slavery was abolished in 1863, so this photo of the rich couple was taken during that time.

In 1860 Abraham left Suriname with his parents and four younger sisters and moved to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. His Father had already amassed enough capital to retire at the age of 48, and the family settled at the posh Herengracht in Amsterdam. His father later returned to Suriname.

Ellis is problably the first black minister and Vice admiral in a Western country.

Suriname abolishes Sinterklaas (and Black Pete) again


Photo: a black man as "Black Pete" ("Zwarte Piet") in Suriname
The Surinamese National Assembly has taken a resolute stance against the embattled Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, the bearded white man who brings children goodies with the help of his slavish pitch-black helpers. “This celebration has a racist element and doesn’t belong in our community. It should be abolished,” said Ronald Venetiaan, of the New Front/National Party Suriname faction. In an unprecedented show of support, other parties, including the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) parliamentarians all agreed with the former President during the parliamentary meetings on Thursday.

Sinterklaas and his little helper “Zwarte Piet”, literally Black Pete, are a big tradition in Holland. Every year on December 5th, children wake up excited, expecting gifts and pepernoten cookies left in their stockings by the Sint who visits Dutch cities riding high a flashing white steed. The tradition has survived fierce opposition in the Netherlands from the immigrant population, who feel that Sinterklaas has racist undertones. But Dutch people say Sinterklaas should not offend anybody, because the slavish Zwarte Piet is not a black man, but a white helper who got black because he came down the chimney to deliver the children their gifts.

The tradition was left behind as an inheritance in Suriname, even after the country gained independence in 1975. It was actually already abolished in the eighties during military rule. Children’s Day was introduced on December 5th, but Sinterklaas survived obstinately to return full circle in recent years. The bearded white man was a prominent figure luring parents to toy shops a few weeks ago.

Venetiaan lamented the fact that Sinterklaas was even celebrated on the Independence Square, which he considered a slap in the face of the “Black part of Suriname’s community”, considering how hard has been fought all over the world against apartheid. His call for a renewed abolishment got full support from Parliament chairlady Jennifer Geerlings-Simons, who is also the faction leader of the NDP. Geerlings-Simons said that as a start, Sinterklaas should no longer be celebrated at public schools that resort under the Ministry of Education. “What people do in the privacy of their homes we cannot influence,” she said. (Source devsur.com)

New film: Philippe Niang's "Toussaint L'Ouverture"


Via Shadow and Act
The long overdue film of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L'Ouverture, directed by Philippe Niang, is produced and will be aired on the network France 2 in February or March 2012.

Jimmy Jean-Louis stars as the title character in what will be a 2-part TV-movie, and he's joined by French actresses Aïssa Maïga (Paris, Je T'Aime, Bamako) as Toussaint's wife, Suzanne, and Sonia Rolland (Moloch Tropical, Midnight In Paris) as Marie-Eugénie Sonthonax, wife of abolitionist L.F. Sonthonax



Kreylicious (the hub for young, upwardly mobile Haitian-Americans) interviewed Haitian born star Jimmy Jean-Louis about the film. Some snippets of the interview.

How did you get involved?
The producers contacted me. You have to understand they have tried to make this movie for the past 20 years. And Danny Glover tried to make this movie for the past 15 years. And many other names have tried to make it. It was a long overdue movie. I was called by the producers to play the role, because they felt I fit the character. I had to do a lot of exercises. I had to learn how to ride a horse. I took lessons for a couple of months. [I had to learn how to] do sword-fighting. I took lessons in California and France.

Why was the movie filmed in Martinique and not in Haiti? A lot of people feel it would have brought a lot of publicity to Haiti, and it only seemed natural that it should be filmed in Haiti and not another island.
Haiti falls short on some requirements. I think the production tried, but it’s difficult to get insurance to insure a place like Haiti right now. From what I’ve been told, that’s one of the reasons why we couldn’t go there and shoot. The structure in Haiti is not the best either. Electricity. The roads are still pretty bad. As a Haitian, I would love to have shot it there.

Check out the full interview at http://kreyolicious.com

The film is produced by the Martinique based production company Eloa Prod

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Photo book: Black people in Turky - "Afro Turks"


In 2010 Dutch-Turkish Photographer Ahmet Polat published his photo book AFRO TURKS. It was the end of a project documenting Turks of African descend, who live in the region of Izmir. He had been working on this project since 2006.

In May this year Ahmet Polat presented his newest publication on the Afro Turkish community at gallery Liefhertje in The Hague.

On his blog he writes: "Together with Erik Vroons, a Dutch visual anthropologist who joined me in 2009, we started a research using archival, private collected images and interviews.

With this work we’ve created an exhibition and an online publication with the aim to create more attention and a better understanding of this ‘forgotten history’. At the same time we hope to give a better insight into the diverse and complex history that resides within the Turkish Republic."


Photo of Ahmet Polat: Melik's father is wrapping the virginity belt on his daughters waist.

Check out some his great photos of Afro-Turkish people.
Afro Turks no 1, Afro Turks no 2, Afro Turks no 3, Afro Turks no 4

A video about Afro-Turks


A video of Afro-Turkish Jazz singer Melis Sökmen where she refers to her African heritage


Read the article Afro-Turks

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Video: Young black and creative in Australia

Being black and creative is a new concept in the small black community in Australia, but things are changing.

Gillean Opoku, who was born and raised in Australia, made a video of young African-Australians about their views of an African creative culture emerging in Australia.

Opoku is also the founder of Afroklectic. Which is a platform to promote creativity within the African-Australia community. Share ideas, communicate to a wider audience that Africa is more than what they see in the media. And to communicate to an audience outside Australia that there are Africans living in Australia.



Website: www.afroklectic.com

Also check an interesting story of Gellian Opuku about her experience as black person in Austrialia. And why she tought she was white. Check her story here.

And if you want to keep informed of what is going in the African-Austrialian community tune into web radio SBS African

Video: Bi-racial Children in Ukraine - The adoption issue


The documentary "Family Portrait in Black & White" about black/bi-racial orphans in the Ukraine triggered many responses on Facebook, blogs and websites.

Many people felt the Ukrainian foster mother should give these children up for adoption instead of keeping them in a post soviet racist environment. In a new video about the documentary (of doctalk) director Julia Invanova talks about this adoption issue.



The documentary is the story of Olga Nenya, a foster mother to sixteen black orphans in the Ukraine – where 99.9% of the population is white and where race does matter. Forced to constantly defend themselves from racist neighbors and skinheads, these children have to be on guard against the world that surrounds them.

I wonder if the Ukrainian foster mother has the legal right to put these children up for adoption. It seems that normally a foster parent doesn't have legal custody of the children; a welfare agency or a body of guardianship holds those rights.

See the previous posting: Bi-racial children in the Ukraine - "Family Portrait in Black and White"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Editor in Chief Jackie resigns over Rihanna n*gg*b*tch controversy

According to the Dutch magazine Elsevier Eva Hoeke has decided to resign as Chief Editor of the Dutch magazine Jackie after the controversy surrounding the singer Rihanna. In the magazine Rihanna is referred to as a "niggabitch", a statement which infuriated the singer.

In the interest of the magazine and all parties involved she will resign immediately, according to Yves Gijrath, the director of GMG.

Hoeke concludes: "I should have counted to ten before making oversimplified statements via social media channels."

Today Rihanna lashed out to magazine Jackie who described her as a n*gg*b*tch.

To Editor in Chief Eva Hoeke she tweeted "@evajackie I hope u can read english, because your magazine is a poor representation of the evolution of human rights! I find you disrespectful, and rather desperate!! You ran out of legit, civilized information to print! There are 1000's of Dutch girls who would love to be recognized for their contributions to your country, you could have given them an article. Instead, u paid to print one degrading an entire race! That's your contribution to this world! To encourage segregation, to mislead the future leaders to act in the past! You put two words together,

@evajackie with the intent of abasement, that made no sense..."NIGGA BITCH"?!....Well with all respect, on behalf of my race, here are my two words for you...FUCK YOU!!!

Apparently magazine Jacky realised they had gone one step to far. Today Eva Hoeke wrote on twitter they would rectify the story in the next edition.

The first to respond to the story was Dutch black Televion host Zarayda Groenhart. According to the newspaper she was furious.

Chief Editor of Jacky first responded on twitter with: "I think it's more than obvious that it's a joke. Anyone who doesn't see this is extremely sensitive to the topic." Afterwards Eva Hoeke gained some new insights. For her boss that apparently was not enough.

On the picture the staff of Jackie, Chief editor Eva Hoeke is the blond third one from the right. Just to give you an impression of where this story came from.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dutch Magazine calls singer Rihanna "The Ultimate Niggabitch"


From Madnews
In an article published in the latest issue of Dutch fashion magazine Jackie, the magazine offers a little advice on how to dress like Rihanna without looking like the “ultimate niggerbitch.” That’s right. No typo there. Check out the full English translation below:
“She has street cred, she has a ghetto ass and she has a golden throat. Rihanna, the good girl gone bad, is the ultimate niggabitch and displays that gladly, and for her that means: what’s on can come off. If that means she’ll be on stage half naked, then so be it. But Dutch winters aren’t like Jamaican ones, so pick a clothing style in which your daughter can resist minus ten. No to the big sunglasses and the pornheels, and yes to the tiger print, pink shizzle and everything that glitters. Now let’s hope she won’t beat anybody up at daycare.”


Two hours ago, Jackie Editor in Chief Eva Hoeke posted the below apology on the magazine’s Facebook page:
Dear readers,
First: thanks for all your responses. We are of course very fed up over this and especially very shocked. However I’m glad that we’re engaging in a dialogue on this page — not everybody does that. Thanks for this. Other than that I can be brief about this: this should have never happened. Period. While the author meant no harm — the title of the article was intended as a joke — it was a bad joke, to say the least. And that slipped through my, the editor-in-chief’s, fingers. Stupid, painful and sucks for all concerned. The author has been addressed on it, and now I can only ensure that these terms will no longer end up in the magazine. Furthermore I hope that you all believe there was absolutely no racist motive behind the choice of words. It was stupid, it was naive to think that this was an acceptable form of slang — you hear it all the time on tv and radio, then your idea of what is normal apparently shifts — but it was especially misguided: there was no malice behind it. We make our magazine with love, energy and enthusiasm, and it can sometimes happen that someone is out of line. And then you can only do one thing: apologize. And hope that others wish to accept it.

From the bottom of my heart I say it again: we never intended to offend anyone. And I mean that.

Regards,


Eva Hoeke

So, as editor in chief, Hoeke had no idea that this was offensive before running it and actually considered it a joke? In addition to being blatantly racist, calling Rihanna Jamaican (she’s from Barbados) and actually suggesting that mothers should dress their daughters like her, this article is just wrong from every angle.

According to our source in Holland, Jackie is a well known local fashion publication with a circulation of 57,700 copies per month. (Source Parlour website)

I don't think the Editor in Chief Eva Hoeke is really sorry about publishing the story. Being offensive is the Dutch norm these days, so this story was a perfect fit.

Report: Congolese Diaspora Waves the Flemish Flag in Protest


Congolese Diaspora, in protest against president Kabila and the Belgian political establishment, brandishes Flemish nationalist symbols.

President Kabila was officially re-elected as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Carter Center reported that the presidential elections lack credibility but the ‘international community’ keeps silent.

With war raging for nearly 15 years through the interior of Congo and with a corrupt elite at its head, many Congolese emigrated. They are now everywhere but Belgium, the former colonizer, hosts since a long time a large community.

While protests have been violent in Congo and many people were killed, there is very little information about what’s going on in Congo. The Congolese diaspora is also protesting. There have been protests in Brussels, London, Paris and elsewhere.

The Congolese Belgians protested last Friday in the streets of Brussels. At least they want the Belgian government to give a sign: to condemn the electoral forgery and to reject the election’s results. The Belgian government has long been Congo’s best ally and as economical and political interest have to be protected the Belgian political elite tends to be very mild towards Congolese leaders. Certainly since China started to be an economical competitor in the region, Belgium not only stopped to be critical towards the government, it supports Kabila.


The Congo politics in Belgium have traditionally been dominated by the French-speaking political elite. They were friends with Mobutu and now court Kabila. Only one Belgian foreign minister, Karel De Gucht, officially condemned the corrupt Kabila regime. He was a Flemish minister, known to be outspoken. A few years ago in a bar in Kinshasa there was a picture of him on the wall with below a sign stating ‘Here speaks the truth’. In 2007 Congolese Belgians already expressed their sympathy for the Flemish honest political style in contrast to the French-speaking smoothness (perceived as treacherous).

One year and half ago the N-VA won the parliamentary elections, they came out to be the largest party. The N-VA is a new right wing Flemish nationalist party, compared to the US they are more like Republicans than Democrats (they want less government). In the democratic system in Belgium the winning parties always have to make a coalition government representing the parliamentary majority (it is not the winner takes it all principal as in the US or France). In the past Christian-Democrats, Social Democrats and Liberals formed different governments in different configuration and coalitions having one of the 3 political families always in opposition while the other two are governing (for each political family there are 2 parties, one supporting Flemish interests, the other French-speaking interests).

This time though the biggest party was the new N-VA, for which there is no French speaking equivalent. But after more than a year of negotiating, N-VA couldn’t find the needed political allies to form a majority. So eventually the loosing parties, i.e. Christian-Democrats, Social Democrats and Liberals formed a government together leaving the winning party in opposition together with the far right and green parties.

The leader of N-VA, Bart De Wever is known to be outspoken, clear, honest, intelligent, hard working and undiplomatic. The N-VA represents the hard working no-nonsense Flemish stereotype. But its stubborn position for more Flemish control and power annoys the French-speaking minority in Belgium (who have proportionally more say on the Belgian political scene).

The French-speaking media in Belgium like to portray Bart De Wever as an arrogant far right politician, but he clearly states he’s not. He just wants Flanders to be more under control of its own destiny and he wants French speaking Belgians who settle in Flanders to learn and speak the Dutch language. He therefore is a natural enemy of the French-speaking political elite, who are traditionally friends with the Congolese political elite. Besides many people believe he wants to abolish the Belgian state and aspires for an independent Flemish republic. But just as many people think that this is propaganda to bring N-VA in discredit.

As a result the Congolese protester chose the Flemish flag and the person of Bart De Wever as key symbols in their protest against the Belgian political establishment.
There are three reasons why the Congolese community found solidarity with the Flemish cause. While N-VA won the elections, the political leaders in Belgium stayed more or less the same. N-VA stayed on the side without direct power (For some it is N-VA’s fault, as they didn’t want to make any compromise). Second the Flemish politicians, and certainly N-VA, are known to be outspoken and Flemish politicians often were critical towards the Belgian Congo-policy. N-VA is therefore their ally against Kabila. Third is the following principal: ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. We could hear Friday Congolese Belgians screaming that next time they will vote for N-VA. This shocks many French-speaking people, but also many Flemish people who see in N-VA a threat for Belgian unity and in the Flemish nationalistic signs a reflection of racism and fascism.

Journalists and politicians in Belgium are completely confused about this spontaneous reaction from the Congolese community.

Video (Dutch)

NB:

Most protests in Brussels resulted into rioting. Why is that? While there were young thugs who mixed into the protest, I think that the police force has a very different reaction confronted with crowds of screaming Africans than with white people. Additionally Congolese are rather ‘loud’ and you may think they have a fight while they are just having a friendly conversation. I believe that this intercultural misunderstanding has quickened the chance for clashes.

Furthermore I know the police reacts totally out of proportion. One anecdote about someone I know may be illustrative. He is from Angolan descent and had nothing to do with the protest. He just works at a theater in the neighborhood where the protesters passed. Because he heard some noise in the streets he took a look at the door (as so many people did). But he is black and immediately the police took him out of the theater’s door gate, dragged him in the street, kicked him and handcuffed him. His (white) colleagues, seeing what went on, ran after him and explained to the police officers that he is an employee of the theater, that he is of Angolan origin, that he has nothing to do with the protest. The police men didn’t listen, asked them to mind their own business and just ignored the colleagues. Once they had him under control and that he didn’t move anymore they let their dogs loose to attack and bite him while he was handcuffed on the floor. Eventually they took him away. He spend 12 hours in jail, bleeding and sour all over his body, they finally released him so that he could be hospitalized. His colleagues were under shock, the theater filed a complaint against the police force.




Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Closure of the International Year for People of African Descent


The end of 2011 is coming near. Last week the UN had its closing event for the International Year for People of African Descent. You can check the video webcast here.

Last year I posted the news as the UN launched this special year to draw attention to the situation of black people in the world. I can read the following on the un webpage: The actions carried out along the International Year served to promote greater knowledge and awareness of the challenges faced by people of African descent all over the world; highlight the important contribution of people of African descent in the political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society, and in the advancement and development of their countries in general with a view to foster discussions that generate proposals for solutions to tackle these challenges.

Honestly, I didn't notice to much of this initiative. I am curious to know about others in the world.

I'd like to conclude with a little note concerning a symbolic and important figure for all People of African Descent: While the year was officially closed on the 6th of december (Sinterklaas "Black Pete Day" in Belgium), it was on the 7th of december 2011 that Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams announced that prosecutors would no longer seek the death penalty for Mumia Abu-Jamal. This after that this year extraordinarily important new evidence established clearly that the prosecutor and the Philadelphia Police Department were engaged in presenting knowingly false testimony.

Prosecutor Williams said that Abu-Jamal will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. Nearly exactly 30 years after the murder he has been prosecuted for.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What I think of Zwarte Piet


Today is the official Sinterklaas Day in Belgium (in Holland it’s on the 5th of Dec). This is a centuries old celebration, especially for children, and it only exists in Holland, Belgium, northern France and certain parts of Germany.

Sinterklaas Day is not an official holiday in Belgium but traditionally primary schools organize an event on the 6th of December and children get a treat (mostly tangerines –mandarin oranges- and speculaas, a typical cinnamon biscuit from this part of Europe). In a former post this blog mentioned the existing discussion on Sinterklaas’s partner(s), Zwarte Piet, translated into English as Black Pete.

Since more than 30 years (Thanks Erik for this info -see comment below) the issue of the black face Zwarte Piet has been raised in Holland. It's only since this year that it dripped down into Belgium. But before 2005 nobody in Belgium was aware of any issue arising of his black face. Even if there were black people living in Belgium, nobody took great offence of this children’s event. It was considered tradition, rather childish, but not rude or meant to hurt anyone.

Things changed. I have friends now who think Zwarte Piet is blatant racism. Influence form the Black American world view has enlightened many European blacks and they don’t want to accept the Black Pete buffoon anymore.

Most white people in Belgium and Holland don’t understand this attitude. Even people who have been fighting racism for more than 10 years are completely shocked by this sudden criticism against Black Pete. They don’t understand that some black people are offended. They weren’t even aware of the fact that it could offend anyone. It’s just Black Pete they say, it’s an innocent character, it’s just for children, it’s like Halloween ...

Many retort to the explanation that Black Pete is black because he is a chimney sweeper. Indeed, the presents Sinterklaas brings for the children are traditionally delivered through the chimney. But that’s a modern day explanation which doesn’t explain the curly hair nor the big red lips. The Black Pete figure was originally a defeated devil and has later been described as a black person of African descent, Sinterklaas’s aid, slave or partner. (For more info check A. Blakely's book 'Blacks in the Dutch World'.)

Zwarte Piet was often also the scary part of the Sinterklaas feast. Only the good children got presents, the bad children had to be punished. And Zwarte Piet was the one who would catch the bad children and punish them. This means that children were supposed to be scared of Zwarte Piet, rather than of Sinterklaas who is more the old and forgiving man.

As a child I experienced this yearly Sinterklaas just like all the other white kids did. I was a good child and so didn’t fear Zwarte Piet. I wasn’t aware of race until I was 11 years old actually. Honestly I always saw Zwarte Piet as a white dude who blackened his skin, not even looking close to what I saw as ‘black people’. Never in Belgium a Zwarte Piet would mimick a 'black' accent, whatver that is. I couldn’t see anything black or African about him, it was just Zwarte Piet.

However, dismissing Zwarte Piet from Sinterklaas Day is not the solution I think. First, Zwarte Piet is a historical symbol of a century old black presence in Europe, eliminating this is ignoring a history that has been too much ignored, a history we have to face so to learn from the past and create a better future. Second, sweeping Zwarte Piet under the carpet is also pretending that stereotypes do not exist. But by deleting Zwarte Piet you do not delete prejudices. Third, most whites are not aware of the racist overtone, blaming them of racism rather than ignorance will not help in making them understand how racism actually works. On the contrary. Again I think we’d rather have to face the issue and change attitude rather than make prohibitions.

I think that rather than excommunicate Zwarte Piet from the Sinterklaas Day we should re-think his presence. A lot has changed since the early 20th century. While he used to be a devilish slave he is more a partner now, nearly equal to Sinterklaas. One day he might replace Sinterklaas. Traditions change over time . Or maybe, more extremely, we can just call the feast Black Pete Day to commemorate all the good things Black people brought to enrich Europe. Black Pete could become a nice and friendly black man who gives presents to the little ones.

As for the black face thing. Continental Europe never had a minstrel tradition like in the US or UK. Besides there was never a dominant black population present within its borders until recently. Therefore the whole sensitive issue of black face in the English-speaking world is of a very different nature in continental Europe. I understand the sensitiveness it has in the States. But while it is nearly non-existent in Europe it only exists in certain traditional holidays (very local). But it’s marginal and people don’t do it to laugh at blacks, they do it to be silly for one day (compare it to Rio Carnival). Let me therefore give another example of a local but strong tradition in Belgium: In the town of Aalst here in Belgium there is also a yearly carnival tradition called ‘De Voile Janetten’ (could be translated as ‘The Dirty Faggots’). In this tradition on the last day of carnival men in Aalst dress up as women, and roam the streets getting drunk . It gives the most hilarious scenes. It is not an anti-gay event, it’s just people being silly for one day.

All this said, I am not here to impose my point of view. I just think it is needed to keep a dialogue. I experienced white people here in Belgium who never ever had met a black person in life and weren’t aware of the sensitiveness of the Dutch word ‘neger’ (which is not the equivalent of nigger, rather of ‘negro’). When I know that a person uses this word out of ignorance rather than to insult me, I don’t think this person is a racist, he or she just uses an old fashioned vocabulary. I just feel it to be my responsibility to explain things to this person and to teach. Attacking Sinterklaas because of Zwarte Piet will only lead to more misunderstandings and hate. Raising the issue and proposing alternatives (like Zwarte Sint & White Pete) could bring more sympathy and understanding, and making people aware rather than angry.

Nevertheless, I was terribly shocked to see the police violence against protesters who were doing nothing more than wearing t-shirts stating ‘Zwarte Piet is Racisme’. This story is not finished yet.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Invention of the Savage. An Exhibition on Human Zoos at the Quai Branly Museum, Paris


Just a few generations ago white people only learned about dark skinned people through human exhibitions and pseudo scientific fairs. 19th-century scientists were eager to prove that different races were biologically distinct and whites biologically superior. These practices fueled the tradition of racism and the racist attitudes still existing today. Dark skinned people were de-humanized and so called scientist searched evidence to proof that Africans were actually not really human beings.

Today Lilian Thuram, former international football professional and nowadays head of the French association Education sans Racisme (Education without Racism) is the force behind an exhibit in the Quai Branly Museum, a modern venue right at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The exhibit brings to story of Europe’s perspective of the ‘other’. It brings into display the history of prejudice.

Offensive images are exhibited while visitors are urged to have a closer look and to be shocked. Films from those days are shown, freak show posters, scientific instruments used to measure skulls and noses, sculpted busts to show human differences compared to blacks and apes.

For the Europeans at the time scientific racism was often the only way to discover the world elsewhere. But the visitors were not aware of the fact that these photo’s, films, drawings, scientific exhibitions, etc. were more fabrications of a fantasy world that the actual representation of people from tropical climes.

Most people displayed in those days stay anonymous. An exceptions is South African Saartje Baartman, also known as the Hottentot Venus. She was often displayed in scientific fairs and spectacles alike. Her life is now subject to a French film released this year. Saartje Baartman is also featured in this exhibition (a French film was dedicated to Sarah Baartaman's story).

Other people have also been identified as Christian Karembeu’s (another French international football professional), grandparents are known to have been shipped from New Caledonia to be exhibited in Paris as "cannibals."

The audioguide is recommended to give you the necessary context. The audioguides are available in English, French and German. At the end a video projection offer moments to reflect. The exhibit opened the day before yesterday (29/11/2011) and runs till 3 June 2012.

More info here
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