Monday, August 31, 2009

Black British man attacked in Germany by neo-Nazi thugs

The Europa Passage shopping centre in Hamburg. A black British man has been beaten up in the city
A black British man is recovering after being attacked in front of his wife and child by neo-Nazi thugs in Germany. The incident took place on Saturday the 24th of August.

The 46-year-old unidentified man, believed to be from London, was in a baker’s shop in the port city of Hamburg on Saturday when thugs from the National Democratic Party approached him with leaflets calling for a ban on immigration.

'Here, take one of these with you back where you belong,' they said to him as he stood with his wife and four-year-old son.

They say the man ripped the pamphlet up and the men then pushed the Briton against a glass window. One man punched him while another sprayed pepper spray in his eyes.

Three suspects were apprehended later and prosecutors are now investigating them on suspicion of causing bodily harm.

The British man , who has not been named, was treated in a hospital and released.

An eyewitness said: 'The wife was screaming for them to leave her husband alone but they just heaped more racial abuse on her as her little boy screamed ‘leave my daddy alone!’ It was vicious and unprovoked.' Read the full article here

In the German newspaper Sueddeutsche this was written about the attack:
"The 46-year-old victim lived, according to the police in Hamburg, but has British citizenship. The man was standing with his wife and his little son at a bakery stand, where at that moment tree men in age of 23, 33, 43 were handing out flyers of the NDP.

When the Britton tore up the paper, it first came to a quiet conversation. Then however, the trio, according to police pushed him against the glass window of the bakery stand.

One of the suspects repeatedly struck him with his fist on his chest, another repeatedly sprayed pepper spray into his eyes.

After the attack, the men fled. But shortly after the attack the police arrested the men in the vicinity of the crime scene. After the police took their id, there were set free. A special German crime investigation department will determine bodily harm."

It's very strange that the attackers, according to the German newspaper, were set free after the attack. But also strange is the fact that German Neo-Nazis can flyer in a private mall without being kicked out. Is this 2009 or 1935?

For more information also see the post on the German blog: Black in NRW blog

On the blog is a video of Mo Asumang, an Afro-German moderator and author, who for her the documentary Roots Germania interviewed an NDP front man. She made an appointment for the interview, but she didn’t say she was black.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

MOBO Awards 2009 - Launch and Nominees (UK)

Photo: Kanya King at the launch party
The anual MOBO Awards 2009 will be held in Glasgow (Scotland) this year on wednesday 30th September 2009. The launch party was held on the 26th August in London.

The Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards, established in 1995 by Irish/Ghanaian Kanya King MBE and Andy Ruffell are held annually in the United Kingdom to recognise artists of any race or nationality performing black music.

This year 2009 is a success for UK black talent. Years ago founder Kanya King complained of the lack of recognition for black artist in UK. And not so long ago it was R&B singer Estelle who made comments about Duffy and Adele and music industry racism. But things have changed.

On her blog founder Kanya King writes:" 2009 has been a phenomenal year for UK music, and it’s so good to see UK talent being recognized in the charts. We’ve worked long and hard to get to this point where all these talented UK Artists are finally getting the mainstream success they so deserve. We only have to take a look at the chart positions of Tinchy, Chipmunk, Alexandra Burke, N Dubz this year to see how far MOBO music has come. This is what we’ve been striving for and I’m really happy that UK music is being so widely acknowledged and indeed, celebrated. You just have to look at the calibre of the Best UK Act category to see how strong the UK scene is at the moment! And check out Beverley’s reaction on our video clip when she hears that she’s been nominated - what a beautiful moment. And I’ve just been told it’s her 10th MOBO Nomination! Wow." Read her full story here


Alesha Dixon
Beverly Knight
Dizzee Rascal
DJ Ironik
Mr. Hudson
Tinchy Stryder

Alexandra Burke
Jade Ewen
Laura Izibor
Master Shortie

Beverly Knight
Keri Hilson

Dizzee Rascal
Kanye West

See full list on nominations here

Notting Hill Carnival 2009 (London)

Notting Hill Carnival always takes place during the last weekend in August, on the Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday so this year it will be on Sunday 30 August and Monday 31 August 2009.

The Notting Hill Carnival has been held on the August bank holiday since 1966, bringing the streets of west London alive with the sounds, costumes and smells of the Caribbean.

It started life as a local festival organised by the West Indian community in the area but has expanded into a full-blown Caribbean carnival attracting thousands of visitors from around the world.

The fun unofficially kicks off on Saturday with the steel band competition — the Steel Pan Panorama — in Hyde Park. But the official action takes place on Sunday and Monday. Proceedings will kick off at the new time of 9am to make sure that the floats get round the three-mile route from Great Western Road to Westbourne Grove and Ladbroke Grove in good time and that the parade is off the road by nightfall. Events end at 9pm on both days and sound systems at 7pm.

Sunday is traditionally children's day, with the emphasis on family and the parade reserved for young people under 21. The hardcore fun — with up to 40 static sound systems competing for attention as well as the adult's parade — takes place on Monday with partying continuing late into the night. Read the full story here

Notting Hill Carnival official website

To see videos made before, during and after the carnival visit the site nottinghillcarnival at winkball here

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More black people are collecting art (Netherlands)

Photo and copyright: My first Art collection
My First Art Collection, next edition : a course for prospective art collectors in the Netherlands. So this is not about the Rembrandts and Vermeers.

Do black people collect art? The answer is: Yes they do. And the number of black people who are collecting art is growing.

Two years ago Ricardo Burgzorg started the training program My First Art Collection, where prospective art collectors could get acquainted with the ins and outs of the art world. Burgzorg bridges the gap between collectors and museums, but also guides beginning art collectors in the art world. My first Art Collection focuses on young native and new Dutch people.

This season the programs in Amsterdam and Rotterdam have ended successfully. Due to the success, and the enthusiasm from all sides, the next course (2009 - 2010) will also start in The Hague. A year later, Arnhem and Groningen will follow. For more information go the website (Dutch)

On the site My first Art Collection there is an interesting video of art collecter and writer Judith Greer. In the video she visits the Frieze Art Fair in London (15-18 October 2009)

Judith Greer on Owning Art

“People come to collecting in different ways; I began nearly 20 years ago. My friends were artists, I started by buying early works. My relationship with art and artist is extremely important. But equally important are those with dealers, curators and other collectors. I read about art, I see endless exhibitions and still I'm learning.”

Judith Greer is co-author of Owning Art: The Contemporary Art Collector's Handbook, and chair of Artangel

My first piece of art was an big old photograph of a Carribean street in 1930. Now I am looking for a Gordon Parks orginal.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Michael Jackson alive!?

New evidence! Michael Jackson is alive. See the video! According to the Sun crazed fans believe MICHAEL JACKSON faked his own death to escape the pressures of fame, they believe their hero is still alive. Read the story here

Thousands have been logging onto websites to join conspiracy theories that the star is simply preparing for the ultimate comeback.

To be honest, I don't believe he is alive. But if he is still alive, I wont talk to him ever again!

Nneka. Music from the Heart and Soul.

Nnekea is a wonderful AfroGerman singer songwriter. I think she would prefer me to describe her as a Nigerian artist residing in Germany, though. But this is how I perceived her and how I interpreted her music when I first heard her fantastic album a few months ago.

When I first discovered her through a friend I was surprised about her total commitment to the African cause in her music. As a child of a German mother and a Nigerian father I had interpreted her to be like most AfroGermans, i.e. having a German upbringing.

Not Nneka. She was born and raised in Nigeria. And not just that, she grew up in Warri, in the Delta region of Nigeria. A place in Nigeria where the terrible consequences of the oil industry for the local population is undeniable. She has seen all this with her own eyes as a child and teenager and now expresses it through her art.

Nneka came to Germany as a 19 year old and settled in the city of Hamburg. Although she stated in an Arte interview that she does speak German, she prefers to do her interviews in English. A language she feels more comfortable with.

Last year Nneka released a n album on which you will find a list of wonderful tracks ranging from genres like hip hop, reggae, soul, afrobeat and more. Her great voice brings you deep lyrics about globalization, love, Africa, poverty, identity, … it all feels very much authentic.

This summer she could be seen on many festivals throughout Europe. I saw her live at the Nice jazz Festival in the south of France. She was the first act of that day. Just her, a drummer, a bas, a guitar and a synth.

She brought us a perfect and heavily emotional set with not only songs from her album but also new tracks. She caught the audience right through their soul with music most of them never had heard before. The intensity and honesty she brought in her songs was so beautiful it made me think of the video’s I had seen from Bob Marley concerts; Nneka is very real and makes music that literally comes from the heart and the soul.

I advice everyone who loves good soul music to check out what she does. Several videos and interviews can be seen on YouTube. And here your can read an article from the Daily Telegraph in 2006.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Laura Izibor: Black in Ireland

Laura Izibor that new star from Ireland. In an interview with the Guardian Laura Izibor also talked about her family history.

“I quote the line to Laura Izibor, the 21-year-old Irish/Nigerian singer-songwriter sitting on the sofa next to me. "Ireland's really changing now," she says. "The Irish themselves aren't completely aware of what change is going on, because they are in it. It was horrible for my father 20 years ago - that's a lot of the reason why he had to move away to London. He couldn't get a job. He used to cycle everywhere and people would stop in their tracks and go, 'I just saw a black fella, he was riding a bike.'" (Izibor's father came to Dublin from Nigeria to look for work; he and her Irish mother separated when she was eight.) Today, however, Izibor is happy to call herself Irish, and the Irish are just as happy to claim her as their own."

The present black Irish population is predominantly of recent immigrant origin, arriving from the mid-1990s onwards from West African countries such as Nigeria.( Source: Wikipedia)

Isabor’s personal story reminded me of an interview with Mel B of the Spice Girls. In an interview she said, that she remembered sitting in the bus on the lap of her English mother. Her father, who is black, sat next to them. But when racist groups boarded the bus, her mother quickly sat her on the lap of her father.

Somehow these stories characterise the UK in the past. But the UK, just as Ireland, have changed. Although more change is always welcome.

But! She recently performed overseas in the US. The Washington Post wrote about her:

“Irish-born singer-of-the-moment Laura Izibor has drawn comparisons to another vocalist who also experienced a meteoric rise a couple of years back: Corinne Bailey Rae. Everyone seems to lump them together simply because they both have adorable accents, curly mops of hair, debut albums that vacillate between exuberance and depression, and singles screaming for inclusion in an hour-long drama.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

Video Premiere of Noah Sow's Rock Band NOISEAUX

Video Premiere. The German rock band NOISEAUX of singer Noah Sow released the video Cessation.
Check out the video and the website

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Are Prince & Paris Jackson Black?

Beware: In this article I will use the word 'mulatto'. I know that some people are sensitive about the use of this word due to its ethymology. The reason I use it is not because I like it but because I will tackle an issue about mixed race people and want to describe things clearly. If this shocks anyone please accept my appologies before starting to read this.

In the following days after Michael Jackson’s death we have heard a lot of speculation about MJ’s fatherhood. During the ceremony we saw his children for the first time and many people were surprised to see that MJ’s children looked so white/Caucasian. Tom Vandyck, US correspondent for the progressive newspaper De Morgen (Belgium) expressed his doubts about MJ being the real biological father of these children. His doubts were based on Paris’s appearance. For him, biologically, she couldn’t be part of the Jackson family.

I was shocked as it reflected the fact that race is still perceived as a hard evidence. But my experience among mixed race people is that whether the parents look black or not, once there is some racial mixing in your background, the racial features of your children is a lottery.

According to an article in The Observer two years ago, nearly all African Americans have some white ancestors. This is the reason many African Americans do actually look like mixed race people with an African and European parent. Look at Colin Powell, Jeremiah Wright, Beyoncé Knowles, … and many more. They all identify as black and have a black identified mother and father. Therefore they are black in the US American context. But these people have white ancestors too and could have children with blond straight hair and blue eyes, certainly if they would choose a white partner.

When you are 'real mulatto', that is first generation black African & white European mixture, your children will generally look white if your partner is white, and black if your partner is black.

Below is a picture of Victoria Rowell, an actrice who has one white and one black parent. on this picture you can see her with her two kids. The white girl's father is white, the black boy's father is black.

Although we can’t really make a rule out of this. Different exceptions are just as common as the rule. My sister, who is half white half black has two daughters with a white Belgian man. The first girl looks white: bleu eyes, light brown hair. The second girl looks mulatto, but still with blue eyes. A good friend of mine who is half white half black has two children with an African man. They both look mulatto. One of my best friends has a mulatto mother and white father, he looks mulatto although his brother is blond and has blue eyes. Still, if you see them together you can see they are brothers.

When you look mulatto Africans can see you are not black and Europeans can see you are not white. Africans in East-Africa will call any white person ‘muzungu’, also someone looking like Obama will be called ‘muzungu’. It’s the same thing to them.

Europeans call light skinned blacks and mulattos also black. To most Europeans whether you are mulatto are not, you are just black. This means that a mulatto is ‘white’ or ‘black’ depending on the place where he is. Race is a relative thing.

I once asked a black street boy in Kenia whether he thought Beyoncé was white or black. He said without hesitating he thought she was white. He had a point, don’t you think so?

The only places on earth I know where people perceive the difference between black, mulatto and white is in Cuba and South Africa. Two places where many people of mixed race of all shades live. I have never been to Brazil, but there too, I heard it’s not just black and white, there is a whole world in between and people are very much aware of it.

My point is that based on the racial appearance of MJ’s children we can’t see if MJ is their real biological father or not. It’s pure guess work and it is wrong to say ‘they look white so therefore they can’t be his children’. Maybe they aren’t but that’s not for certain because of their skin colour. You can look white and still resemble you black father a lot.

Michael Jackson (before getting vitiligo) was a brown skinned black man, with the features of a mulatto. If you look at him, the ‘real black man’ (because having 2 black American parents) and the 'real mulatto' Obama; honestly they are the same type of black man, aren’t they?

Paris and Prince, if mixed race, are not the only mixed race children who look like white people. There are actually many. I will list some famous American ones.

This however doesn't prove that 'mulatto' people look white, this just proves that mixed people have all colours and shapes, and that they prove that race is just an illusion.

Jennifer Beals, actress, father black, mother white

Wentworth Miller, actor, father black, mother white

Rashida Jones, (Quincy Jones's daughter), father black, mother white

Elisabeth Atkins Bowman, author of 'White Chocolate', father white, mother black

Amanda Marshall, singer, father white, mother black

Derek Jeter, baseball player, father black, mother white

Blu Cantrell, singer, father black, mother white

Mariah Carey, singer, father black (Afro-Venezuelan), mother white

Jason Kidd, basketball player, father black, mother white

And then last but not least: a little youtube video about biracial twins, one white, the other biracial as the world expects it (although called 'black' by the journalists). As twins this is rather special, but even then, brothers and sisters one white and one 'black' will become more and more common in interracial families.

Don't listen to what these journalists say nor the doctor they quote. The father might be 'black', he is certainly not a black African. He has clearly some white ancestors somewhere in his family tree. He looks mixed race.

The girls are not white or black, they are both mixed race. One looks white and is blond, the other looks dark and brown skinned.

If you keep on looking around you will find out that this phenomenon -maybe not twins but brothers and sisters having a totally different racial make up- is not a One in A Million case.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fekete Pákó. A Black Hungarian Super Star?

Fekete Pákó is the name of a TV star and singer in Hungary. His real name is Oludayo Olapite. He comes from Nigeria and came to Hungary in 1994 on scholarship to study Law, but later dropped out. His two Hungarian CDs have sold up to 31,000 copies. Enough to earn him golden platinum and make him a big star in Hungary.

On how he actually got into showbiz, Olapite recalls it was his friend, Molnár Sándor who came up with an idea. Sándor had asked what seemed to be a crazy question: "What if a black man sings Hungarian folklore?" The rest is now history.

You could think that the existence of a Black Hungarian TV personality is a beautiful example of integration and interculturalism within Europe. According to many, it’s quite the opposite. Fekete Pákó is a rather racist act that creates an image of sex obsessed, polygamous, human eating dummies.

The Hungarian tabloids are so obsessed with him to the extent of making him the spokesperson for Africans in Hungary even though it’s apparent that Pákó does not know much about African politics, culture and social life. Yet, they prefer him to those Hungarian Africans who are competent in this field, as well as speak more fluent Hungarian.

Headlines such as "Celeb Sex: Fekete Pákó in Online Cock Measuring Contest"; "Pákó Fekete Officially crowned Dumbest Hungarian"; "Cleb Dish: Szulak Stalked by "Cannibal" Pákó" is the kind of sensational misrepresentation you could read in Hungarian tabloids.

However, strong opposition comes from his own people. Fekete Pákó is not loved by his own people. Africans and especially Nigerians in Hungary simply hate him. They alleged he is denigrating black people in Hungary with his utterances and lifestyle.

Fredrick Konor, a Ghanaian who is a member of SANKOFA Cultural group, believes Pákó can’t sing but the guy has other characters like being funny, doing unexpected things that have lured Hungarian tabloids to him. "We should stop the jealousy," he says indignantly. "Our brother came from nowhere with a fresh idea to breakthrough a sector which is highly competitive. An African singing in Hungarian language!".

It’s true, he did something no one did before and he made a living out of it. And we could think if the likes of Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dr. Dre and 50Cent are not in the same way abusing ideas about black people to make a lot of money in the show business. But then again, maybe we should not take all this too seriously. Why not appreciate the irony and self mockery in all this?

This article was written thanks to an article from The Nation (Nigeria) by Olumide Olapite. Click here to read the full article.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Two Day Caribbean Festival in Belgium: Antilliaanse Feesten

Approx. 45000 people danced the night away at the Antilliaanse Feesten in the small town of Hoogstraaten, Belgium. Not like most festivals, the Antilliaanse Feesten starts when the sun goes down and keeps on going until dawn.
Music from Latin-America and the Caribbean is getting more and more popular in Belgium (as all over northern Europe). So is this festival, which has a summer and winter edition (in-door).

In contrast to ‘World’ festivals where you have a predominant white audience coming to see African, Asian and Latin artists, the Antilliaanse Feesten has a totally mixed audience of all colours. It was surprising how many mixed couples were present. Many men wore white shirts and trousers, while the ladies wore very short skirts and high heels. Not the easiest outfit for a festival in a rural grass field, but everybody wanted to look at its utmost best. And it was beautiful to see.

The most famous act this year was Carlos Vives, a Colombian superstar well known in all parts of Latin America. This was his very first gig in the Benelux (Belgium-Netherlands-Luxemburg). On Saturday the French Creole super band Kassav, from Guadeloupe, came to make the crowd dance and party. Kassav has been on stage throughout the world for 30 years now, and are very popular in the French speaking world. This was the 5th time they came to the Antillianse Feesten and they were still bringing us great Afro-Caribbean vibes .

The crowd was super enthusiastic and going crazy, all over the place you could see people branding flags from Trinidad, Jamaica, Cuba, Martinique, Surinam, …
There were cocktail and champagne bars and delicious cigars. The food was not typical Flemish festival food, i.e. French fries and hamburgers, but Caribbean Chicken grill, cornbread, rice & beans, Surinam Chicken with peanut sauce, …

Slavery Remembrance Day 23 August 2009

The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Since 1998, UNESCO has been reminding the international community of the importance of commemorating 23 August, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. This date not only commemorates the historic night in 1791 when the slaves of Santo Domingo rose up to break their chains and launch the insurrection that eventually led to the Haitian revolution, it also serves to pay tribute to all those who worked collectively and individually to trigger the irreversible process of the abolition of the slave trade and slavery throughout the world. This commitment and the strategies of action used that were conducted to fight the inhumane system of slavery were to have a considerable impact on the human rights movement.

Beyond the act of commemoration, this international Day aims at eliciting reflection on a tragic past that may be distant but whose repercussions continue to fuel injustice and exclusion today. This reflection on the barbarity our society is capable of unleashing with a clear conscience is all the more necessary, salutary even, as millions of men, women and children still today suffer the horrors of new forms of slavery. This is how the remembrance of past tragedies serves to enlighten us about present-day tragedies of exploitation and dehumanization.

Message from Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO

Slavery Remembrance Day Festival in the International Slavery museum in Liverpool 21 to 23 August 2009 .

DIANE NASH HEADLINES SLAVERY REMEMBRANCE DAY FESTIVAL 21 – 23 August 2009. US Civil Rights activist Diane Nash launches a weekend of entertaining and thought-provoking events with a free memorial lecture on Friday 21 August 2009 at 1800 hrs, Liverpool Town Hall. See more information here

The bird in the picture is called Sankofa: This is a mythical bird that flies forwards while looking backwards with an egg (symbolising the future) in its mouth. Sankofa teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward.

See more mythical West-African Adinkra symbols here

See also a very interesting short documentary about Ghana's Cape Coast Castle here

Friday, August 14, 2009

German far-right threatens Afro-German politician

Zeca Schall is a black immigrant politician in Chancellor Angela Merkel's party (CDU). He is running a election campaign for the state elections due in September. Lately he has been harassed with racism and been told to leave the country. The NPD (National Democratic Party) described him as CDU’s ‘token nigger’.

Despite suffering hostility and racial abuse from far-right opponents he decided to keep on going. He has expressed some fear but he sees the far-right campaign against him as just electioneering.

Zeca Schall, immigrated from Angola in 1988, and has been living for more than 20 years in Thüringen/Thuringia, and former part of East-Germany. He is featured on campaign posters for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union.

The far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) has damaged posters with racist statements and branded a big poster stating 'Have a good trip home Zeca Schall'.
In the meantime Schall is receiving police protection in his hometown of Hildburghausen. Members of far-right movements tried to approach his house but were turned away by the police. The Christian Democrats say they want an investigation to stop extremists for inciting hatred.

Yesterday the public prosecutor announced having launched an investigation into NPD’s actions, on suspicion of racial hatred, defamation and attempted coercion.
Schall is responsible for issues of integration -- that is, issues involving immigration and multi-culturalism -- for the CDU in Thuringia.

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Schall spoke of his shock at the incident and described it as an attack on German democracy.

For those of you who understand German, check the little video on youtube.

Also check the Black Nord Rhein-Wesfalen website

Travelling from Amsterdam to Paris - Black bloggers on the move

Photo and copyright: Linda Garrison (Arc de Triomphe)
Summer news. We, a Dutch black-brown blogger couple, travelled to Paris by train from Amsterdam Central Station to Paris Gare du Nord. This train station is the busiest station in Europe, and one of the busiest railway stations in the world. The female blogger will write her own story on her Dutch Blog.

Most important travel choice. Taking the car was an option, but is was a four hour drive, stops not included. Driving in Paris wasn’t an option, because you have to be a Parisian to drive a car in Paris.

Most interesting train experience. On the Thalys fast train we met a Dutch Moroccan couple who were going to Paris to visit family. It appeared they only lived a few blocks away. What a coincidence!

Most worst metro experience. We had to jump out of a metro carriage into a dark metro tunnel. Everything went smootly when we took the metro to our destination, but when we took the metro back to the city the trouble started. While we were heading to Gare du Nord the metro suddenly stopped in the tunnel. It was a crowded metro on a hot summer's day. There was no message from the metro operator as to why we had stopped. After about ten minutes we heard people opening the door of the metro. And suddenly we found ourselves standing in the door opening of metro carriage, but without the station platform. We had to jump from the metro carriage into a dark subway tunnel. It was like jumping from the top of a bunk. After a two minute walk we saw the lights of the metro station Gare du Nord. It appeared the train was broke. I hate to say this, but this is so French.

Most interesting bus experience. When we arrived at Gare du Nord we took the city bus 42 to the Champs-Élysées. In the bus we met a Dutch Caribbean couple who were heading to the Eiffel Tower. They where in Paris for the second time, because they wanted to show an another family member the culture of Paris. Small world! We also talked to the French folks on the bus. Real city people. Always in for a small talk.

Most interesting black experience. You see black people everywhere. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that in the recent past black people in France were afraid of calling themselves black or “noirs”. Afraid of not conforming to the French principle that all people are French and equal. It was the French black organisation CRAN who activaly began adressing the issue that visible minorities in France faced discrimination. The front man, Patrick lozes wrote the book 'Nous, Les Noirs de France'(We, the blacks of France').

Last ethnic detail. Two black people in the metro were calling us 'Caribe'. Some people are always trying to label you.

Most interesting city experience. Of course we got lost in Paris. So we asked a bus driver which bus we had to take to Gare du Nord. He first pointed us to a bus station in a nearby street, but while we were walking towards the bus station we heard a yell. It was the bus driver. He had left his bus to tell us he knew a shorter route. Great guy. We waved at him as he drove by.

Most notable difference between Paris and Amsterdam. People in Paris ride scooters like people in Amsterdam ride bicycles.

Most favourite French author I was suddenly thinking of. Of course Alexandre Dumas, author of the The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. I still remember the moment when I found out he was black. Dumas was reburied in 2002 in the Panthéon of Paris, the great mausoleum where French luminaries are interred. Former French President Jacques Chirac acknowledged that racism was the reason why he hadn't been enshrined in the past. Dumas was the greatest.

Dumas reminded me of a video of a school trip of French children from an urban school. They were on a excursion to get to know the famous French author Honoré De Balzac. Interesting detail, the children are from the neighbourhood where the ethnic riots broke out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Racist poster of German Green party

"The only reason to vote black", the poster states. In German: "Der Einzige Grund Schwartz zu wahlen." The image of two white hands on the buttocks of a black woman complete the statement. Is this the poster of some right wing German organisation? Is it an awareness campaign , or is it a joke?

It is a local political campaign pamphlet of the Green Party in Germany. Because black is the colour of the German Conservative party, the poster is used - according to the party – to break the absolute majority of the Conservative party CDU in the region. So it just means, don't vote conservative?

But why use the image of black woman in this way? Black German organisations call the poster racist and sexist, but the German party sees no harm in it. They even see it as provocative. In a press release they state: "The Green Party in particular have politics which stand out for their commitment to tolerance, *Weltoffenheit *and equality." Weltoffenheit is a German concept that is meant to symbolise inclusiveness, multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. And, "Indeed, this poster could be seen to be "anti-racist" since we have received exactly this feedback from people with a migration background." See the full translated press statement here.

On their blogs Afro-Germans express their grief about the poster. On the blog of the black media watch organisation ‘der braune mob’ most people see it as blatant racism. Others see the fact that party stated “people with a migration background” as a sign that the party makes a sharp distinction between ‘Germans’ and others.

Unfortunately the German Green party still doesn't see that that their multicultural awareness is in sharp contrast to the awareness to other Green parties. At least those who claim to embrace multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. I don't think that similar parties in the Netherlands, France, the UK or in the US would see such a poster as an expression of diversity.

But it’s clear that the Green party in Germany knows how to connect to ‘its own people’ to achieve its goals. I’ am afraid that my biased Dutch opinion about Germany may even be true.

But what does "the only reason to vote black" really mean. In my view the Green Party probably meant to say, that conservative voters are only interested in foreigners if it has to do with sex. The word "black" refers to the colour of German Conservative party, and the image of a black woman might refer to foreigners. But the offical explanation is, that the poster is meant to highlight the Greens' support for same-sex partnerships. But why use a black woman?

The Greens actually think the poster can be seen as anti-racist. But the reality is that they without any shame exploit racial stereotypes of black women for political goals. I don’t think the party would even consider of using racial stereotypes of Jewish people. But the image of naked black woman is in their world view something they can use without serious consequences.

Also read: German Green Party Defends 'Racist' Campaign Poster

(Special thanks to the media watch organisation Der Braune Mob for supplying the translated press release)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy 36th Birthday Hip-Hop!

Yesterday, 36 years ago, Hip-Hop was born on 1520 Sedgwick Ave. and Cedar Park USA. But the music and the culture also made its way to Europe. Happy birthday Hip-Hop!

via: Shadow And Act.

The Netherlands returns King’s Head to Ghana.

The head of king Badu Bonsu II is officially back in Ghana. The Dutch minister of Foreign Afffairs, Maxime Verhagen, Ghanaian representative in The Netherlands Odoi-Anim and Ghanaian traditional leader Etsin Kofi II signed on 23 July in The Hague a declaration that eventually makes the head’s handover a fact. The great-great-grandson of Badu Bonsu II was also present.

Aqua Fortis

The head was at the ministry of Foreign Affairs but was only public for guests from Ghana. Badu Bonsu II killed in 1838 two Dutch emissaries at the Gold Coast and was consequently hanged en decapitated. The head was kept and brought to the Netherlands. There it was put into aqua fortis to be preserved. According to Radio Voice of Africa this was for several people in Ghana a sensitive issue.

When the Ghanaian president Kufuor visited the Netherlands last year the issue was brought to the attention. ‘Everywhere in the world people give much importance to the way there forefathers are buried. In a way that cherishes their soul. We have to be able to say goodbye to those we honored when alive. We have to know that our forefathers can rest in peace’ said minister Verhagen at the ceremony.

The minister went on, "King Badu Bonsu II lived when the Dutch were controlling the trade posts of the Cold Coast. After his dead he became a symbol of these turbulent times. Our common past includes also the disgraceful slave trade, in which our traders were involved and which they sustained. We do not ignore this shared heritage.”

In Ghana there was a lot of attention for this event. According to Radio Voice of Africa the handover ceremnoy had ben broadcasted live.

Notting Hill Carnival in London: the struggle of a community

The Notting Hill Carnival is now a showcase of London’s multicultural society, but in 1976 the Carnival turned into a race riot. See the interesting post of the history of black British people in West London, on the French blog Caraïbes et z'Antilles

In about two weeks, the streets of Notting Hill in West London, will be flooded for two days by more than one million people who come to attend the second largest street parade in the world after that of Rio de Janeiro. The Notting Hill Carnival is so immense popular that it allows the British government today to extol the virtues of its model of integration.

But its success was not obvious if you look at the early years of the Notting Hill Carnival. In the summer of 1976 racial tensions between the police and the Caribbean community sparked a riot after the arrest of two black men. The riot turned Notting hill into a battlefield.

In the compelling documentary 'The Long Hot Summer of 1976' the build up to the riot and the clash with police is told through interviews and visuals. Among the interviewed are black British filmmaker Don letts, singer Eddy Amoo and many others.

Official website Notting Hill Carnival
Read: Remembering the Notting Hill riot

The Long Hot Summer of 1976 - 1

The Long Hot Summer of 1976 - 2

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Carnaval Tropical de Paris 2009

Carnaval Tropical de Paris 2009 was the 8the edition of the French carnival, which was held on July 14th in the streets of Paris.

This year 2009 the carnival had something new, the election of the Queen of the Carnival. The winning group received a ticket for the Nottinghill Carnival in London.

Official website: Carnival Tropical de Paris 2009

See images of the Carnival on the blog Caribes et z'Antilles here

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Garden party of the French Overseas Departments (2009)

Photo and copyright: Régis Durand de Girard
On July 13th 2009 the French Overseas Departments had their annual garden party. The invited guests are seen as a reflexion of who is in and who is out of the black socio political spotlight in France. See the photos here.

On the photo (right) Marie-luce Penchard, the new appointed Secretary of State for Overseas Territories, and host of the garden party. Penchard replaced Yves Jégo, who was a mayor player in the 2009 French Caribbean general strikes. Olivier Biancarelli (left) is the special overseas territories advisor and top aid of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The photo comment on the Paris blog (see photos) states: "Qui est le chef maintenant? (Who is the boss now?)."

The Overseas Departments and Territories (French: départements d'outre-mer and territoires d'outre-mer or DOM-TOM) are the Caribbean islands Martinique, Guadeloupe, the South American country French Guiana, and the African island Réunion. The other countries have a different status. People from the d' outre-mer are French citizens.

Not only government officials were invited at the garden party. Actrice Firmine Richard and Zouk singer Claudy Siar were also present. But also professionals, young potentials and people who play an active role in the French black community were invited. Lucette Michaux-Chevry, the powerful mother of Marie-luce Penchard, also attended the party.

The important question is if Marie-luce Penchard will be able to stabilise the explosive political situation on the French Caribbean Island Guadeloupe. According to critics Penchard is not a political powerhouse, but the fact that she is born in Guadeloupe is seen as a positive factor in the conflict.

But what happened to Christine Kelly? The glamorous black French TV presenter and writer who had come to the attention of star-struck president Nicolas Sarkozy for the post of Secretary of State for Overseas Territories. The latest news: she has turned green.

Official site l’Outre-Mer

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Kwakoe festival in Amsterdam

The Kwakoe festival in Amsterdam South East is moving towards it's final weekend (August 8-9). The Kwakoe Festival is Amsterdam's biggest multicultural festival and the main festive event of the Surinamese, the Dutch Antillean and the African community.

Kwakoe attracts thousands of visitors to the Bijlmerpark show ground over six summer weekends for a programme of live music, dancing, film screenings, sports, informative events, discussions and many varieties of ethnic food. A different theme is chosen each year and this is reflected in the music and performances. Increasingly popular, Kwakoe has drawn crowds of up to a million people in recent years.

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