Friday, May 29, 2009

European contest for young leadership talent from minorities

Photo: AtmosphEuropa Inspire people!

A European contest for young leadership talent from minorities of any kind. Barack Obama inspired the contest because he inspired many young and minority Europeans.

So what do you have to do? Of course enter the contest. Inspire people as Obama does. Speak your mind about climate issues, conflicts, and new poverty. You can do this by writing a paper and plug a 3-minute video on YouTube or Daily Motion

But you have to be les then 30 years old. And you have until Saturday, 18 July 2009 to enter the contest

For more information go to:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Raphael Saadiq in Europe, '100 Yard Dash'

Raphael Saadiq is touring Europe from july 25th till sept 9th 2009.

From his early days as a member of the '80s group Tony! Toni! Tone! through his work as a producer with artists such as Joss Stone, The Roots, Snoop Dogg and John Legend, Raphael Saadiq [ tickets ] has always kept the faith--especially when labels told him there was no place in today's music for his stylish, '50s-inspired solo album, "The Way I See It."

"They said, 'You're a black American guy when there's only really, like, a blonde British girl [Joss Stone] singing this type of music. Where do you fit in?'" Saadiq recalled during a recent interview with LiveDaily.

At first I taught: this guy is from Europe!

Raphael Saadiq on Myspace
Check out video below

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Stop aid to Africa! Why Bono hates Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo is a Zambian-born economist who says aid is killing Africa. She is to aid what Ayaan Hirsi Ali is to Islam.

In her new book, Dead Aid, she argues that official aid is easy money that fosters corruption and distorts economies, creating a culture of dependency and economic laziness.

Moyo is particularly dismissive of the ‘celebrity aid’ model popularised by international stars such as Bob Geldof and Bono and says many aid organisations and NGOs are more interested in perpetuating poverty in order to justify their own existence.

Controversially, she advocates turning off the aid taps within five years and claims this will result in more Africans being pulled out of poverty.

Moyo, who has a Doctorate in Economics from Oxford University, and a Masters from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, has been a consultant to the World Bank and recently worked for Goldman Sachs in London. Currently she is a member of the Board of Lundin Petroleum.

For those of us who have roots in the Caribbean, Africa, or South America this is an interesting view to pass on after dinner. Since Dambisa a is great fan of China, she argues that the Chinese contracts are a good alternative for western aid. But what about Darfur! we all know that the Chinese are not really trying to end the conflict, they are actually a part of the problem. But inspite of China, she presents a new vision.

I must admit I never heard of Dambisa Moyo until I read the interesting post of Lola Adesioye.

The Anti-Bono interview
Is Aid Killing Africa?

A short interview

A long interview

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Negro for rent in the Netherlands

Renting a negro is not a problem anymore. In the Netherlands you can hire a negro for just 55 Euro an hour.

The Dutch company BlackPack is an agency exclusively for black men, white women are the main customers. The founder Bryan Oudhoff wants to respond to the stereotypes that exits of blacks: blacks are better dancers and have more sense of rhythm, writes the Dutch paper DePers.

The founder of the firm Bryan Oudhoff is of Afro-Surinamese origin. He daily faces the known stereotypes about black men. So he decided to respond and started Black Pack: a black agency, where only black men are allowed to register. Currently, BlackPack has a list of twelve employees, they are from Surinam, Ghana, the Moluccas and the Antilles. His main customers are white women who hire the men to strip, dj, dance or to play djembe, but also to assist in shopping, playing chauffeur or for exotic cooking. "But I do not run escort bureau, although the strippers are popular," says Oudhoff.

The company got a lot of criticism in the Netherlands, it would only exploit stereotypes about blacks. According to the Dutch Anti-discrimination agency the initiative causes "a strange feeling and colonial thoughts. How can color be relevant with cooking or driving a car?" The company would even violate the law, because it employs people purely on the basis of color, white men don’t have no chance. Oudhoff compares Black Pack with the ‘Miss Black’ contests for black women, he sees it as entertainment. "My staff is not at all stereotype. They are always on time,” he ends smiling. (Translated story.)

The issue of stereotyping seems to be a Dutch black problem at the moment. First there was the novel ‘Alleen maar nette mensen’ (Just fine people) where black woman are being stereotyped as easy and white men lovers. And now there is an agency which rents black men to white women. The novel was written by white author with a black girlfriend and the agency is run by a black man.

So what’s the problem with the black community in Holland. Compared with other European countries there are no books written anymore about racism, black identity or anything else that has to do with blackness.

The reason. The black Dutch community - from former Dutch colony of Surinam and Dutch Antilles - is widely regarded as the most integrated community, compared with other large ethnic (Muslin) communities.

The grim reality is that ‘we’ are not as integrated as we are made to believe. Recently black Dutch author Clark Accord made a statement in the media, about the total lack of black representation in de media and lack of attention for ‘black problems’. He feels black people issues are overrun by problems of Muslim communities.

But I am afraid Accord is too late. Because this is what you eventually get when you have stopped investing in community visibility and black awareness. You will end up to be a powerless black community where every form a racism is regarded as a misunderstanding, a joke or as gay and muslim problem. But what you do get is a world’s premier. A rent-a-negro agency. Black owned.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Hague Jazz, May 22 and 23 2009 (The Netherlands)

With The Hague Jazz, the city The Hague received a successor of the North Sea Jazz festival (which has moved to Rotterdam). The Hague Jazz has grown to a big festival with 91 acts on twelve stages. With Afro-Spanish singer Concha Buika, Dutch talent Sabrina Starke and cracks like Bebop pianist Hank Jones, Rod McKuen, trumpeter Hugh Masekela and Rod McKuen. But there is also attention for experimental Jazz and the underexposed German scene.
The Hague Jazz, Fri May 22th en Sat 23th World Forum, Den Haag,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stevie Wonder rocks the White house

Stevie Wonder turned 59 on May 13th. But before his birthday he received at the Whitehouse the ‘Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song’, and of course he also performed for the Obama's. You can watch the entire broadcast on PBS.

It was big difference with George Bush at Gospel night at the Whitehouse.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dutch novel reinforces sexual stereotypes of black women

Photo Woman Inc
In the Netherlands an author started a row by publishing a book that is sexual stereotyping black women. The book ‘Alleen maar nette mensen’ (Only decent people) is the debut of Dutch Jewish author Robert Vuistjes.

On Wednesday May 13th theatre maker Anousha Nzume, writer Clark Accord en Professor Gender studies Gloria Wekker debated with author about his book at Woman inc.

In the book ‘Alleen maar nette mensen’ (Just fine people) main character David, who comes from a intellectual high class environment in Amsterdam, undertakes a quest to find the ‘real negro’ woman. In his search he meets various stereotype black women, who are each sexy, lusty, and can be picked up for a few euro's. David’s hunting ground is the Amsterdam Bijlmer, the part of Amsterdam where most black people live.

In a column Anousha Nzume wrote about some of the stereotype passages in the novel. "Main character David believes that there are two types of 'Black' women. The Sherida chain (Sherida was a popular Surinam name); very dark skinned, wears at least size 46. Cup size 95 F. Not taller then 1.65. At least one of her garments has tiger print. She dates any man. Breezer desirable but not essential. Available in the “negro women disco". Then there is the “bounty” (black from the outside, white from the inside), highly educated with dreadlocks. Dates only white men, in the absence of negroes of a certain level. She is boring, unsociable and mainly dressed in batik. You can find her at a slavery debate."

Under a literary flag Vuijsje sketches -intended or unintended - an archetypal image of (black) women, which some consider stereotype, stigma, caricature and even discriminatory. This book was previously awarded with the Belgian literature prize The Golden Owl with the comments of the jury; the style swings as an African tit. The book is not only praised by the literary authorities, but in many Talkshow praised for its "humorous" and "sharp" analysis of the black woman.

The opinions about the book are mixed. The black local city chairman of the Bijlmer, Elvira Sweet, finds the book a stigma for the neighborhood, and for black woman. Cultural anthropologist Irma Accord finds it racist and sexist. But Mildred Roethof documentary maker of Sex Sell’s finds the book funny. Lynn Spier, social therapist in a clinic for criminal offenders and the black girl friend of the author, doesn’t recognise herself in one of the characters.

But has the author of the controversial novel really stereotyped black women? Good literature is about calling up images without explicitly writing about it. I remember an author’s advice for author wanna-bees; if you bring in a black woman in your story, it will add something exotic and sensual! So Dutch author Vuistjes just followed boot camp guidelines for starters and used stereotypes that already exits in literature, or even worse, in society.

But there's one thing that bordered me. The image of the author's black girlfriend sitting next to him at the presentation of his book. It was the image of: look I am not racist nor a bigot, because I have black girlfriend. And that of course, doesn’t have to be true.

Update: I changed the English translation of the book into 'Only decent people', that's correct translation of the book 'Alleen maar nette mensen'. After seeing the video of the author on Black women in Europe I understood what he really meant. According to the author, this is said by people in the upper class neighbourhood Amsterdam Zuid. They mean that only decent people live there, and not so called "allochtonen" (blacks and other non-western ethnic minorities.

Anousha Nzume's translation of her opinion piece

Also see Trailer: Dutch film "Alleen maar nette mensen" - Ghetto versus civilised (+ English translation)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jade Ewen will represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest

Jade Ewen will represent the UK at tomorrow's Eurovision Song Contest final in Moscow, having been chosen by BBC viewers as the best of the bunch on Eurovision: Your Country Needs You. She will perform "It's My Time", composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber especially for the competition.

Jade was born and brought up in Plaistow, London, to a Jamaican mother, Carol and a half British half Sicilian father, Trevor. Her father is blind and partially deaf, and her mother is partially blind. Because of her parents' disabilities, Jade has become a carer to both her parents and two younger siblings. Despite this, she managed to have dancing lessons from the age of three, and subsequently achieved a scholarship to the Sylvia Young Theatre. Later on she appeared in several theatre plays.

for more information Jade's offical website

And Jade Ewen on Myspace

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

France's plans for tackling racism and promoting diversity

Yazid Sabeg Commissioner of diversity and equal opportunity presented his plans to restore diversity and reintegration into the French society.

On May 7th Yazid Sabeg, selfmade millionaire and son of Algerian immigrants, handed over his program of action and recommendations for diversity and equal opportunities to French President Zarkosy. Commissioner of Diversity and Equal Opportunities, Yazid Sabeg, has presented his work with a month's delay. The 115 page report is divided into 76 action plans designed to promote, advise and regulate the diversity, by establishing what he calls a "new deal", addressing the foundations of the economy, the education, housing and politics.

The first part of the report is devoted to the revaluation of the youth. "France is not investing enough in his youth, which combines the disadvantages in terms of training, income and access to positions of responsibility" Referring " Intergenerational divorce ", the report shows that the poverty rate is five times more than thirty years ago. Because nearly 20% of the youth does not graduate, and France by 2015 will desperately need engineers, technicians, and scientists, the report considers a national pact for the access to training.

The second part, which is the source of the controversy surrounding ethnic statistics, is dedicated to promoting diversity and the fight against discrimination. Nicolas Sarkozy, in his speech on 17 December 2008 in Palaiseau, had hoped that France "is developing statistical tools to measure its diversity." Faced with the outcry of the proposal, the consensus seems reached, the report states that the objective is to complete the instruments and data already available to "characterize the discriminatory situations. It will eventually be collected by questionnaires and anonymous census surveys. An observatory of discrimination shall use the information for analyses.

This diversity, according to the report, will be promoted to all avenues of society. Also in the political institutions. The anonymous generalized CV will be used within political parties. The reports states that "The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the States United showed the delay of the representativeness of the French political class. Of the 577 members, only 3 are immigrants from outside Europe, in the Senate they are only 4 on 343. It is also calls for the media to renegotiate their agreements for the hiring of people of diversity.

Finally, the third point of the flagship report entitled "A New Deal for the policy of the City" offers a series of measures to reinstate the "neighborhoods" in the city. This achievement is considered in line with plans for urban renewal, the de-isolation of certain areas, the access to schools to all, regardless of place of residence.

This highly anticipated "Action Program and recommendations of Yazid Sabeg received a mixed reception among unions and associations. The CRAN (Representative Council of Black Associations in France) welcomed the measures that will "finally make visible minorities full citizens," they see it as "a great day for the republican equality". Less lyrical are the French Confederation of Christian Workers (CFTC), they are "vigilant" about the tools of measurement set out by the Commissioner. Dominique Sopo from SOS Racisme is concerned about "the absence of strong proposals" and denounced the policy of "rule out the development of a policy against discrimination in favour of a policy to promote diversity.

Diversité quand tu nous tiens
French Minorities Push For Equality Post-Obama

Friday, May 8, 2009

French commemoration of the abolition of slavery on May 10 2009

In France 'la marche de la Mémoire' (the march of memory) will take place in Marseille on May 10th around 13:30.

The march is organised by PACA, an association for the collective memory of slavery. PACA is an association which brings individuals and corporations together seeking to convey the history of slave trade, slavery and its abolition.

France is the first major Western country to officially commemorate its slavery abolition. President Chirac set the day of May 10th for commemorating the memory of slavery and its abolition.

France also became the first major Western country to adopt legislation recognizing the slave trade as a "crime against humanity" when the French Parliament passed the Taubira Act on 10 May 2001. The law was named afther the French politician Christiane Taubira.

On 4 February 1794, the First Republic (Convention) voted for the abolition of slavery in all French colonies. The abolition decree stated that "the Convention declares the slavery of the Blacks abolished in all the colonies; consequently, all men, irrespective of colour, living in the colonies are French citizens and will enjoy all the rights provided by the Constitution."

Official website of the French ‘Comité pour la Mémoire de l’Esclavage’

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why I think Afrika!Afrika! is awful.

For months Belgium has been covered with video’s, posters, flyers and other promotion for 'The magical circus adventure from the amazing continent' Afrika!Afrika!. Other countries all over the world will follow. The Afrika!Afrika! Circus has been touring the world for several years now and reached an audience of millions. I am actually happy that this problematic show has finally left my country.

The show has had some very positive media attention and has been presented as an example of open mindedness and diversity. But it is, from a social and cultural point of view, a scandal that Africa can be depicted this way in 2009. This show just confirms all over again the existing exoticism about Africa while pretending to be an example of nuance and political correctness.

The show pretends to bring you Africa as a continent of great richness and cultural traditions, sprawling of creativity. But it is totally problematic. The show doesn’t tell you anything, doesn’t even express any feelings except for the stereotype idea of ‘the happy dancing negro’. It doesn’t go any step further than Josephine Baker's banana-skirt-dance, generations ago. The worst is its pretence of authenticity because the dancers are ‘real’ Africans and the costumes are authentic. But the meaning of costumes, dances, songs, … is totally lost. Afrika!Afrika! just presents you a superficial image of smiling dancing black acrobats playing ‘Africa’.

Of course a circus doesn’t have to be anything else but spectacle, but this time Afrika!Afrika! presents itself as a positive force that tries to bring a better image of Africa.

After a first scene with dancing girls in straw skirts, a duo of basketball players comes on stage. They make impressive stunts with a basketball while hip hop beats blast out of the speakers. The fact that basketball and hip hop is presented next to tribal dances without any explanation proves that anything ‘black’ goes. It’s a ‘black thang’, thus African, thus whatever.

The acrobats are impressive and the life band is great. But the show doesn’t go any deeper and doesn’t tell us anything about Africa. It just keeps on showing stereotypes of black people all over the world.

Again, I didn’t expect anything more from a circus, but Afrika!Afrika! wants to be more than just that. Therefore it is a depressing circus attraction. The whole show doesn’t lead you to what it pretends on its website: not any insight or knowledge about Africa, not any understanding of African diversity.

I wonder how people would react if an African circus producer would bring a show called Europe!Europe! with smiling dancers from the Balkan to Scandinavia and Russia and acrobats disguised as cowboys from the Wild West, all brought together. Will it be a testimony of the great richness and cultural traditions of Europe? It may be a vibrant and esthetically great show, but pretending to be more would be scandalous. Not for Afrika!Afrika! it seems.

It looks like Europe only has three ways to describe Africa. Most of the time it is total silence. When a war, epidemic or famine breaks out the media will convince us of the impossible and tragic reality of Africa. And to compensate this bad news there will be once in a while great enthusiasm for a thing like Afrika!Afrika!.

The worst thing is that this show gets the support from some top diplomats within the UN. Not the least from Kofi Annan himself, whose comment is printed on the program booklet for every visitor. This way people who don’t know anything about Africa get the illusion that they are actually learning something about Africa (and black people?) through this populist show.

After I had seen the show I was very troubled but couldn't find the words to express it. I thought I may be just over sensitive about Africa and the way black people are depicted. Everybody seemed to love the show. Kofi Annan's words made it untouchable. But at the same time I knew there was something thoroughly wrong about this spectacle. Thanks to Jan Goosens, artistic director of the Royal Flemish Theater in Brussels (KVS), who wrote a column in De Morgen I could find the right inspiration and terms to express my dissapointment. I owe much to this column. For those who read Dutch please go and read his column.

For more info about the show go to their website: afrika!afrika!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Black German media organisation Afrotak cyberNomads wins prize

AFROTAK cyberNomads were honoured with the Award Best Media by the German government foundation ‘Demokratie und Toleranz’ for cyberNomads activities starting in 2001 as the first Black German portal on black presence in Germany. The organisation Afrotak Cybernomads is founded by Adetoun and Michael Küppers-Adebisi from Berlin. The award ceremony was held on May 6th.

The online portal CyberNomads will be the first internet portal of black people in Germany to be officially awarded by a government agency.

Passing Strange: a black American in Europe

Passing Strange is a musical which has stopped in 2008. It was an award winning musical on Broadway about a black American in Europe. Spike Lee filmed the last two production. The news is, he finished it recently and showed to a selected audience on Saturday May 2de.

But what's so special about a story about a middle class black American who travels to Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin in search of his identity and soon discovers he starts to play to the stereotypes he's trying to escape? The negro problem, according to director of the story.

It’s the experience of a black American in Europe what makes this play interesting. Since Amsterdam is yelled several times in the play,I was wondering – as a black Amsterdam native - what the director and star of the show had learned in Amsterdam. His name is ‘Stew’ by the way. Of course there are ‘Coffee shops’ in Amsterdam where you can buy Lebanon. But I don’t consider that a big deal. He also mentioned the experience of black American artist like Richard Wright, James Baldwin and Josephine baker, they are typical examples of black Americans expats in Europe. But the sad news is I didn’t found what Stew had really learned from his trip to Europe.

But in an interview he made some interesting remarks about what he called the black American expat myth. Like most black Americans he grew up with that myth. “The American expat myth was that you where accepted more as human being and maybe not as a race. Most of that was true. But the problem with the expatriate myth was that you had a lot of people who where going to Europe though that everything was going to be fine and great, but found out that racism is everywhere. And that are people who trying to put you in a box everywhere.“

But I think his statement is universal. Black Europeans are also being put in box when to go the USA. Oui, je suis de Hollande!

The interview with Stew about the play and his personal life.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

UK Caribbean restaurant closed because of obesity regulation

On April 19th the Jamaican cafe in Leytonstone, East London, became the first takeaway in the UK to be given a closure order under guidelines banning the sale of fast food near educational establishments.The local government wanted to stamp out the practice of selling jerk chicken within 400 metres of a secondary school. The bambo restaurant was opended just six weeks ago.
The community feels the Caribbean restaurant is being victimised by the local council. The Reason...The Council don't want any "fast Food", "Junk Food" near parks and schools. They argue that cultural food is not Junk Food.
More information about Caribbean food: Afro-Caribbean restaurants network

Global Faction made the video report.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Queen's Day car attack has left one Antillean band member dead

The Antillean Wilfrido Plantin is now one of the six fatal victims of the attack on the royal family during the celebration of Queen's day in Apeldoorn. The man was a member of the Dutch Antillean dance group Ekspreshon Kultura from the Dutch city Almere. The offender has deceased on May 1.

Plantin was 71 years old (on the photo pictured, above second from the right). The group Ekspreshon Kultural consists of nine members, where one of the members has deceased and four people have been seriously injured, including two sisters. Two people were slightly injured. The group was hit behind and they probably never saw the car coming.

It’s clear that the main target of the offender was the royal family, but somehow he first drove his car into an Antillean music band. The attacker was a 38 year old single Dutch man, who had just had lost his job and couldn't pay the rent of his house anymore.

More information:
Ontzetting op Antillen over slachtoffer Apeldoorn
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