Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bonnie Greer versus the extreme right-wing BNP (UK)

BBC One's Question Time on October 22 was one of the most controversial television events this month. Live on television, the leader of the extreme right-wing British National Party(BNP) on the panel of the BBC's Question Time. Also on the panel was black British American playwright Bonnie Greer.

The BNP's website referred to Greer as a "black history fabricator" for her work on the radio documentary In Search of the Black Madonna, which was, it said, an "Afrocentrist daydream".

Back to BBC's Question Time. To be honest it wasn't a strong performance of Greer. She said." I don't know much about politics, my background is culture." And it showed. But also a line as," Nick and I, both have an undergraduate degree in history". Nick and I? That's not the way you talk about someone who is an honoured guest of the KKK.

We know that Greer hates the BNP, but she is culture, so let her stick to that. Don't ask her to debate with a notorious racist.

read: BNP leader Nick Griffin savaged by Question Time panellist Bonnie Greer

In the video she discusses the claim of the BNP that Winston Churchill could have been a member of the BNP. Churchill had made some anti-immigration remarks.

Monday, October 26, 2009

German reporter criticised for posing as black man in film

German reporter Günter Wallraff spent over a year travelling through Germany disguised as fictional Somalian man Kwami Ogonno for the film Schwarz auf Weiss ( Black on White ). His goal was to experience racisme at first hand, so he put on a blackface for the occasion.

And he succeeded. In East-Germany – of course - he was attacked by drunken youth. Read the full story here.

But Afro-German Noah Sow, author of Deutschland Black & White, criticised Walraff: “A painted white person is not a black person and cannot have the same experiences even if he thinks he can,” said Noah Sow, author of Everyday Racism in Germany . “Wallraff is earning money and respect on the backs of oppressed minorities.”

If you're not acquainted with Germany this film may seem as an eye opener, but racism in Germany doesn't need to be uncovered. Long before the 2006 FIFA World cup football tournament even the FIFA warned people of colour to stay away from the “rural areas” in East German Berlin.

And Günter? I think he wanted to be on the news again, but this time with a racism show with hidden cameras. If he really wanted to expose racism he could have used the black guy in the film. But I think the sole purpose of this black man was just to legitimate his blackface.

See shots of the film in the interview (German)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Last Moroccan leaves the Netherlands

What if all the Moroccans in the Netherlands were to pack up and leave? This is the question posed by an internet video.

In the video A man cycles in his dressing gown to collect his own newspaper from a pile in the street – the Moroccan delivery man has left the country. Streets are strewn with litter, buildings fall into disrepair. Stranded commuters queue for taxis, with no one left to drive them. “Last Moroccan leaves today,” reads the newspaper headline, as a plane overhead flies south. “Last Moroccan leaves the Netherlands”

Moroccans tend to feature in the Dutch media as young criminals, causing nuisance in the street, hurling abuse at gays and women, and carrying out muggings and robberies. Or indeed as Muslims struggling to integrate, in a debate driven by anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right Freedom Party. Mr Wilders has said he would not hesitate to deport Muslims who commit crimes or fail to integrate into Dutch society – and his party is riding high in the polls.

An interesting video of a minority group under pressure. But for a community who has been in the Netherlands since the sixties, it is very one sided view. It seems that they will only be missed if the newspaper is not being delivered anymore.

Although their unemployment rate is the highest of all minority groups the Netherlands, there is a large group of young and ambitious Moroccans who are successfully entering the professional sector. This video is more a street view.

I wonder how a video entitled "Last black person leaves Europe" would look like.

Read “Last Moroccan leaves the Netherlands”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marvin Sapp - Gospel Festival Paris 2009 (Oct. 31)

Le Festival Gospel de Paris – Sunday October 31st in Paris (50. av. dur President Wilson 92310 La Plaine St-Denis) with Marvin Sapp and Total Praise.

After Kirk Franklin and Bebe Winans, ‘Le Festival Gospel de Paris’ invites the gospel and R & B star Marvin Sapp. The reputation of Marvin Sapp has gained momentum in 2008 with his hit "Never Would Have Made It” from the album Thirsty. The song peaked at 1st on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs and 14th in U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In 2008 Sapp received the BET AWARDS for Best Gospel Artist.


The Former member of legendary group Commissioned will perform for the first time in France at the Gospel Festival 2009. He will be joined by 180 singers and musicians of Total Praise. Total Praise has performed with Barbara Kendrics, Jessye Norman, Johnny Hallyday and many other famous artists.

The concert will be preceded by a plateau of young modern gospel talent such as Dré Bonny (ex Poetic Lover) and Leah Vincent (Lion King).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Interview Spike Lee: "I wasn't the one that put blackface on Judy Garland."

It has been 20 years since the release of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. So for the occasion Spike Lee was interviewed by Jason Solomons of the Guardian. In the interview Lee talks about Do The Right Thing, other films and Obama.

In the interview he also talks about a film which is very relevant today. It's the blackface film Bamboozled, a satirical film about a modern televised minstrel show featuring black actors donning blackface makeup and the violent fall-out from the show's success. The film - of course - is relevant because of the recent Vogue issue and the blackface Australian performance of the Jackson Five. In the interview Jason Solomons said that some people found this film a very angry film, Lee replied, "I wasn't the one who put blackface on Judy Garland."

On YouTube I found the video montage of the black face shots used in the film Bamboozled. You sometimes wonder how people can use black face and call it 'artistic'. (See all videos below.)

Do The Right Thing (1989)
Lee: Do The Right Thing takes place in hottest day of the summer. We wanted the people to be sweating while they watched this film.

Fight the power (theme song)
Lee: I knew I wanted an anthem, so I called Chuck D and he came back with this classic. It's really the theme at that time of young black America. In 1989 Fight the power was the only song you heard that summer.

The Toy (1982)
Interviewer: Back in 89 black filmmakers were struggling to be heard. Black actors were struggling to get out of ghetto parts.
Lee: A very important individual, people don't really acknowledge, is Michael Schultz. He was our only African American director in Hollywood at that time. He made a lot of hit films of Richard Prior. Prior was a big star in Hollywood.
Interviewer: They had to had to give him a white buddy, Gene Wilder.
Lee: “The worst was the film The Toy (1982), where he was bought by rich white man as a toy for his child.

Soul Plane (2000)
Interviewer: Do you think, that because of Do The Right Thing, that kind of film will ...
Lee: Hé hé, they still make some of this stuff. You ever heard of a film called Soul Plane?

Malcolm X (1992)
Lee on Malcom X: This is biggest run I've done so far. People said, don't mess it up.

Bamboozled (2000)
Interviewer: One of my favourites is Bamboozled (2000). One of the least seen, one of the most angry.
Lee: One of my favourite films too, very funny film.
Interviewer: Black film makers, black activist say it comes a big angry.
Lee: I don’t know it was angry. I wasn't the one who put blackface on Judy Garland, Mickey Roony and Bugs Buny.

(The film below is a video montage of the blackface shots used in the film Bamboozled)

You sometimes wonder how people can use black face and call it artistic.

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Interviewer: The film Do The Right Thing has shaped the politics of Obama.
Lee: Well I don't know if it has shaped his politics. People forget that the best film in 1989, according to the academy, was Driving miss Daisy. A film no one has seen, no one is watching that today.

La Hain (1995) - The Hait
Lee: The one film I have issue with is La Hain (1995). That film was a complete rip off of Do The Right Thing. The director Mathieu Kassovitz has never acknowledged it. He said he never saw it. When you see Do The Right Thing, it's an homage.

More Bamboozled

Quote of the film. In the film the white boss says to the black screen writer: “I grew up around black people my whole life, the truth is know N*gers more then you. And don't go getting offended by me using the word N***. I have a black wife and two Bi-racial kids so I feel I have the right.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Spike Lee: “I never drank that post-racial Kool Aid”

An interview with Spike Lee and BBC Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman on changing race relations in America since Lee made "Do The Right Thing". In the interview which aired a month ago, the two argue about the impact of Barack Obama’s election on modern day racism.

A very interesting interview, the idea that racism is something of the past seems to infuriate him.

Spotted on Soulculture

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Queendom: Black female and Norwegian

On October 14th the Norwegian group Queendom had the television premiere of their comedy series for TV-action 2009. Queendom has written the script and plays all the supporting roles. Place of action is Sogndalstrand in Norway and Bagamoyo in Tanzania,the themes are women, Africa, development aid and multicultural Norway.

Queendom about Queendom: “Queendom is based in Oslo, Norway, and draws on the talent and experience of five performing artists with backgrounds from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda, Trinidad and Gambia. The group was established in 1999 and is unique in that it represents the first time young, black women have set up their own performing arts group in Norway. The members of the group are professional actors, journalists, singers and songwriters.

Queendom aims to raise the profile of black women by creating both socially aware and entertaining performances. Our shows touch on themes relevant to our everyday lives in Norway, such as racism, identity and women’s issues. While most of our material is original we also present a selection of texts and music written by other black artists - both in Norwegian and English. Through humour, satire, poetry and song, we wish to raise the level of awareness and understanding between men and women of all ethnic backgrounds.”

Queendom performers:
Hannah Wozene Kvam, born 1972 - background Ethiopia
Asta Busingye Lydersen, born 1970 - background Uganda / Norway
Isabell Dahlsveen Sterling, born 1972 - background Trinidad / Norway
Monica Ifejilika, born 1977 - background Nigeria / Norway
Haddy Jatou N'jie, born 1979 - background Gambia, Norway

Read the review of Queendom on Jamati

Website Queendom
Queendom on Myspace

Haddy Jatou N´jie

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Musical Tismee with Aurélie Konaté (France)

The musical Tismee, Sept 18th till Nov 11th 2009 in Theatre de la Reine Blanche in Paris

The musical Tismee is a musical about ordinary racism. It’s about words and telling jokes that are not often considered evil, but can hurt. It’s about bias, prejudice and the colour of one's skin. It’s about living in two cultures, at a time when more and more people carry two cultures and two lives in them: one where they are, the other where they come from. It’s about the difficult duality where the solitude of exile and feelings of rejection regularly overwhelms.

Sounds very dramatic, but with this line up no tears will be shed.

With Aurélie Konaté – Singer, dancer and comedian
Félix Sabal Lecco – Singer, musician and comedian
Khalil Maouene – Singer, musician and comedian

Official Myspace website Tismee

Official theme song Tismee "Je Pars Seule"

Is Amsterdam Bijlmer turning into a ghetto?

It seems like a ghetto disease, but just like East London also Amsterdam Bijlmer is turning into an American ghetto. Amsterdam Bijlmer is a neighboorhood in the city district Amsterdam South-East, it's the district where large Antillean, Surinam and African communities live.

The latest incident was the killing of a nineteen year old black teenager by an another black teenager. With twenty-two shooting incidents this year, Amsterdam Bijlmer is headline news in The Netherlands.

In the Hip Hop music video you see how the black chairwoman of Amsterdam-South-East, Elvira Sweet, is being shouted at by a teenager. While Sweet is saying, "We are doing everything, not only as city council, but also with police ..," she is brutally interrupted. “F** that," he shouts. "You're doing nothing. Now you stand here, you never stand here. You think you have the right to speak. You're never here man!”

Amsterdam South-East is my old neighbourhood, but something has changed dramatically over the years. More then ten years ago I lived there and wrote for the local paper. Back then South-East was in the middle of a huge gentrification program, which triggered a Malcolm X style revolution. It started because the black population was left out of the decision making process. Eventually the protests changed the political landscape in the district, and for the first time a black chairman was chosen to head the local city council. Since then two black women held the position. But somehow the last chairman has lost complete control over the district.

The video is on youtube and is seen by all those black kids in the hood. Is this end of black leadership?
To be continued …

Friday, October 9, 2009

Black music history: Des’ree It’s Oke (UK 2003)

Since it is Black History Month in the UK, Des’ree's last video It’s Oke (2003) should be part of it. Not because it’s old, but because it’s her last. Although the video was shot in the UK it could have been shot in The Netherlands at the famous Albert Cuyp Markt in Amsterdam. It has that multicultural European big city sauce all over it.

It’s a shame Des’ree has completely stopped making music. So call this a small tribute.

Generation Next: Young black men in the media (UK)

A foundation that aims to empower urban young people in the UK has made a documentary about how young black men are portrayed in the media.

The Generation Next Foundation has produced the film to mark Black History Month.

The Lambeth-based foundation was set up by two brothers - Hamdi and Ludvig Bonin - and aims to drive positive social change to help young people achieve their potential.

The film, called Minority Report, will be screened at City Hall on Friday, followed by a panel discussion with Conservative London Assembly Member James Cleverly, the Mayor's ambassador for young people, and Chuka Umunna, Labour's candidate for the Streatham seat at the next election, who is also a trustee of the Generation Next Foundation. Read press release

The Generation Next Foundation is a non profit organization that was formed in 2008. The Generation Next Foundation has been founded to provide opportunities for the youth within our community. We believe that it is imperative to empower the youth in society so they have the tools to achieve their highest potential.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Black History: Black European nobility tucked away

Maria Jacoba van Goor

Black nobility in Europe? Yes, according to black Dutch researcher Egmond Codfried and author of the book Belle van Zuylen's forgotten grandmother. There was black nobility in Europe, but their history and images were later carefully tucked away and erased from history. His claims are controversial and of course not accepted by European historians.

 African facial features

Codfried has systematically studied hundreds of paintings of famous and less famous nobility. He regularly stumbled upon people who looked black or coloured. Although they were considered white, they clearly had African facial features.

About his work he writes: “This study of historical sources and literature on black and coloured historic persons was inspired by the chance finding of a portrait of Maria Jacoba van Goor (portraited in the picture). We get a view of the problems and of the methods to identify these Europeans."

Belle van Zuylen

"This beautiful painting was also a reason to cast an afrocentric view at Belle van Zuylens life and her works, the biographies and the origin of her financial fortune. Through her coloured grandmother, the Dutch Belle van Zuylen (1740-1805) also known as Madame de Charrière, joins the rank of writers as the Russian Alexander Pushkin, the French Alexander Dumas and Colette, the Britons Elizabeth Barrett and her husband Robert Browning. As well as the German classic composer Ludwig von Beethoven and Queen Charlotte of Britain. These are Europeans of great merit, who had black forefathers. Also we find that Belle was a friend of Pierre Alexander Du Peyrou (1729-1794), a brown coloured and wealthy Surinam plantation owner in Swiss. He is renowned as a close friend, benefactor and publisher of the most famous philosopher of the Enlightenment, Jean Jaques Rousseau."

The reason why he studies nobility has to with the fact that nobility has left traces in the form of portraits and writings.

Some of his claims

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

Queen Charlotte Sophie of Mecklenburg Strelitz (1744-1818), Wife of George III

Described by others in her time as 'a true mulatto face' , ' brown' or ' yellow.' Her nose is to wide and her mouth shows the same fault.

Maurits Huygens

Maurits Huygens (painted by Rembrandt in 1632) the older brother of Constantijn Huygens. Constantijn was one the most famous poets in the Golden Century.

African people in Renaissance European art

A painting of the French-Swiss painter Liotard (1702-1789) "Portrait of a young woman". Liotard is also considered coloured according to  Codfried.

A Moor by Juriaen of Streeck (1619-1673). Most people do not realize how many pictures exist of Moors in Europe. Why the love of Moors? Names, family crests, geographical indications, all references to the Moor according to Codfried. Others regard it as a picture of a servant.

As a response Codfried writes: "Part of the Moritzburg Treasure (Renaissance), , with a gold and silver cup in the form of a Moor's head, which was used at high nobilty marriages. Why Moor's head? The Moor was apparently in high regard."

PORTRAIT OF AN AFRICAN MAN January Mostaert (ca.1474-Haarlem Haarlem 1552/1553) Ca. 1520-1530. A unique 16th-century portrait

A painting of a black African in European clothing - with sword - portrayed as a Habsburg-Burgondian nobleman from that period. The self-conscious attitude, clothes and rich attributes demonstrate a successful assimilation of this man within the cultural norms of the European Renaissance. (Research lab Black is beautiful Dutch)

But, the research lab also writes, black Africans were in the 16th-century Europe rarely people of distinction. Most of them were imported as slaves in Spain and Portugal. A small number of them were released over the years, but most were employed as servant to their master. Only the Congo, which in the late 15th century was Christianized by the Portuguese, had a special status as a black kingdom of which the elite was educated in Portugal. Some Congolese made it as scholar, clerk, musician and jester quite far. Most remained employed in subordinate occupations. In the Netherlands, where the slave status was not recognized, negroes usually came along as servants of Spanish and Portuguese traders.

Why important

But why is it so important to show that black or coloured people in Europe were part of the European nobility? Codfried's motivation is to show that Europe was never as 'white' as we have been taught. Black people were always in Europe, even among the European nobility.

Looking at the portraits of those 16th and 17the century black people in Europe, I wonder what they would think of us now.

Also See

Sunday, October 4, 2009


-----Email Message-----

Working as a teacher in the inner-city has rid me of my racism.

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people
mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard. Go to

Very interesting project. I think I will also mail my secret on a postcard, and I will also post up here as well.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

And the MOBO winners 2009 are ...

The MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards took place yesterday (Sept 30th) at the SECC in Glasgow, Scotland.

According to Madnews, the organisers put on the best show in years.

But someone was pretty "pissed". Ex-Destiny's Child star Kelly Rowland Kelly has called for an apology from MOBO organisers, claiming that her performance at the awards ceremony was affected by poor sound quality. (Digital spy)

And Nneka won the Best African Act. On the photo Yolanda Brown who won an award in the category Best Jazz.

Best UK Act: N-Dubz
Best Newcomer: JLS
Best Song: 'Beat Again', JLS
Best Album: 'Uncle B', N-Dubz
Best DJ: Trevor Nelson
Best Hip Hop: Chipmunk
Best R&B: Keri Hilson
Best International: Beyonce
Best Video: 'Single Ladies', Beyonce
Best Reggae: Sean Paul
Best Jazz: Yolanda Brown
Best Gospel: Victizzle
Best African Act: Nneka
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