Friday, November 27, 2009

Author Chimamanda Adichie on why we need black stories

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

It's one the most compelling talks I have seen in years. It’s the talk of Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie (32) who talks about the danger of a single story. One of the single stories is the story of the one sided view of Africa. Africa as a place of war, poverty and aids. But she doesn’t only talks about the ‘West’ versus Africa, she also talks about her own single view of a boy who worked at her home. Her parents told he was poor, and she always saw him as poor boy. But it turned out she was also trapped in that single story of the poor boy.

She also explains why we need black authors.

Although she seems somewhat nervous, she tells her story like an exciting book. She held her TED talk on july 2009 in Oxford

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not Black and White: Three black London Theatre makers

An interesting story about three black theatre makers in London. Kwame Kwei-Armah(left) wrote the play 'Seize The Day'.

Artistic director Nicolas Kent describes the Tricycle Theatre's new trilogy, Not Black and White, as a “stock-take” of multicultural Britain.

He gave three writers — Roy Williams (right), Kwame Kwei-Armah (left) and Bola Agbaje (middle), all London-based — free rein to choose their themes; respectively, the prison service, politics and immigration.

“Here we are in a culturally diverse capital and yet we seem to have very few black people involved in the governance of it; there's a power deficit for black and Asian people,” Kent says. “This seemed a good time to do an audit of cosmopolitan London and British society and I thought it would be good to take three leading black playwrights to open up the debate. Kwame and Roy [who are both in their early forties] are probably the two most senior black writers today and Bola [28] is a very interesting new voice.

“I think people like big ideas and these are three writers at the top of their game. What they don't do is reference white society, or place black people in relation to it, and certainly not in an oppositional way, as so many black writers feel they have to. They are much more about black people's relationships with each other. We're looking at things in a more mature way — at the shifts in society that move us away from simple black/white debates.”

Under Kent, for the past 25 years, the small but influential Tricycle in Kilburn has not only altered the landscape of British theatre but has also helped change how the Establishment operates. The theatre has pioneered verbatim work with its tribunal plays about enquiries into events such as Bloody Sunday, arms sales to Iraq and the Srebrenica massacre. Their Stephen Lawrence drama, The Colour of Justice (1999), is now used by a number of British police forces to educate officers about institutionalised racism. Read the full story here

THEATRE: Seize The Day by Kwame Kwei-Armah - London

“The symbolism of having a Black mayor! A city of 45% colour, should have a mayor of colour don’t you think?”

Jeremy Charles has got the face to represent it – a well-spoken, good-looking Londoner, with an appetite for change: yes he can! He’s sold his pitch on reality TV, but can he be the real people’s candidate?

Kwame Kwei-Armah has had a great idea for a play: the pressures on an African-Caribbean contender for the office of London's mayor. And, as the second show in the Tricycle's Not Black and White season, it goes down a storm with its audience and raises a host of issues: too many, in fact, for a play that basically offers a plausible portrait of metropolitan realpolitik.

Seize the Day Tricycle, London Until 19 December.

For more information: The Tricycle

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SADE's new album: “SOLDIER OF LOVE” – 8th FEBRUARY 2010

Release "Soldier of Love" worlwide on February 8th. Soldier of Love marks Sade's first new studion album since the multi-platinum Lover Rock.

The wait is now over. Epic Records is pleased to announce the release of Soldier of Love, the highly anticipated new body of work from SADE. Soldier of Love – which will be released worldwide on February 8, 2010 - is Sade’s first official studio album since the multi-platinum release of Lovers Rock in 2000.

Soldier of Love was recorded in England and produced by the band and their longtime collaborator Mike Pela.

Visit: Official site

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Harry Roselmack’s new TV show: reporting from the French ghettos

Harry Roselmack will present the TV program “derrière les murs de la cité” (behind the walls of the city). The most popular French journalist, according to a recent small survey, will plunge himself in the troubled French suburbs for a full month.

The concept is English: a journalist will take part and submerge himself in the daily live of a community. For the BBC it’s Louis Theroux, who is best known for his Gonzo style journalism, which is a style of reporting where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become central figures of their stories.

Roselmack’s program will cover the daily live in the French suburbs. He will first visit the Paris suburb Villiers-le-Bel, the place where the riots started in November 2007. Through the testimonies of the residents, he will will attempt to decipher the functioning of a notoriously difficult city.

Rémi Pernelet, editor-in-Chief of TV 1, is thrilled: "This show will find its public because it provides a different look at life in the suburbs." It will be a success."

The program will be aired by the commercial station TV1, starting on 24 November.

I hope Roselmack will make a program that will change the perspective about people of the 'banlieues'. I don't hope he will become the new black Louis Theroux. That would just make the program look like an urban safari tour.

The film La Haine (The hate) of 1995 had to be a the wake up call!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

TV/Social Media: New lives (Nouvelles vies) – Eight people decided to change their life (France)

New Lives is the new French TV and social media reality show on RFO. Eight people who live in, or have roots in the overseas French territories embark on a journey to change their lives by following their dreams. The show is aired on TV, but people can also participate by posting advice on the social media site. Go to Nouvelles Vies (New Lives) here

See the profile videos here

The profiles:

Corinne, originally from Martinique, is a professional dancer. Her specialty is the limbo. She is the mother of 3 boys. At 40 she dreams of starting a dance school. New Lives proposed to accompany her with the steps she undertook, supported by her relatives. Corinne was one of the singers of the eighties disco group Bony M.

Dominique (Guadeloupe) made her living as financial advisor, and is is 30 years old. She has lived all her youth in the Paris, but has decided to leave everything behind to start a new live from scratch on Guadeloupe. Is she not going to miss the city?

Gwénaelle, 18, arrived in Fort-de-France and entered the prestigious school 'école de Sciences-Po Paris'. A real change of life for this young girl who has left her family and friends, and is preparing for a difficult course. The show follows her career, and her first few weeks of adjustment in the capital Paris.

Samuel , 31, lives in Réunion. He practices organic farming and wants to share his beliefs with other farmers in the region. He is preparing to organise the first eco festival of Réunion. His wife will take the opportunity to give bio cooking classes. We'll see if this pair manages to pass on this new lifestyle.

Nathalie is an expectant mother of twins and her life is not easy. This Martiniquaise 33 years will become a single mother, but she must find a new home, repair her car and organize her life. Preparing for the childbirth, and to her new life as a mother, we follow the change of life.

Audrey, 31, originally from Martinique, dropped her job as legal officer and wants to start a new career in producing films. But the path to the cinema is full of pitfalls.

Fabrice (Réunion) is a foreman in a garage during week and skipper in the weekend: his dream is to participate in the sailing contest Round Créolia. He must train and find a teammate, but parallel to its preparation, he was to inherit a land where he plans to mount lodgings. Arrive there at any juggle? Will he participate in the race?

Tiya earns his living by making Theatre and film costumes, but wants to record an album and pursue a singing career. She has already filmed the first clip and tries to make a name for herself.

For more information see: fxgpariscaraibe (French)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thierry Henry's Hand Of God (France)

A news report on France's controversial victory over Ireland in Paris that knocked the Irish out of the Football World Cup. Thierry Henry clearly handles the ball twice before he passes the ball to Gallas who scores France's crucial second goal

This was so obvious!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Black actors are left out of European Couples Retreat film poster

Spotted on Madnews
The international poster promoting the film Couples Retreat (also seen here in Britain and in Holland) does not feature African American actors Faizon Love and Kali Hawk. See the UK version above and the US version below.

In response to the controversy Universal Pictures said, the poster had been changed to ‘simplify’ it for the UK and international market outside America. The studio added that it regretted causing offence and has abandoned plans to use the revised poster in other countries.

I think it's the segregated mind of a US marketer. How does Universal know that black actors on a poster will frighten a "European" audience. I don't think they have stats to support it, so it must be just a feeling. To me black and white actors in a film, is a typical American film.

Years a ago I read a book with black and white people on the cover. I actually thought I was reading an American book, but when I finish it, it turned out to be a book from a Scottish publisher who wanted to make his book look like an American book.

So this is Universal nonsense.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

British rap pioneer Derek B dies at 44

Derek B (44), one of the UK's first hip-hop stars and the first British rapper to appear on Top of the Pops, has died of a heart attack. The London-born rapper scored top 20 hits with Good Groove and Bad Young Brother in 1988. Read full story here.

Derek R.I.P.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Blackface: Black Peter (zwarte Piet) and Sinterklaas in the Netherlands

It’s Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) and black Peter time in The Netherlands. Which means blackface characters in the streets, in the shops and in the schools. The Sinterklaas feast is an annual children’s event, which starts in the middle of November and peaks on the birthday of Sinterklaas on December 5th. The whole event revolves around presents, so this is retail primetime of the year.

But the black Peter character in the Sinterklaas event has become controversial over the years. Some black people feel the black Pete character is racist, but others feel the black Peter discussion is too serious. The popular opinion in Netherlands is, that the Sinterklaas feast is a part of the Dutch culture and identity, and that it should be protected at all costs. Black Peter is not a black person, he's a chimney sweeper.

Black Peter: offensive or just fun? (Dutch)

"I Like it, but somehow it's racist. Because of black Peter of course. Those things happened during slavery. It still happens."

Dutch writer Lulu Helder (photo), who coauthored the book 'Sinterklaasje, Kom Maar Binnen Zonder Knecht (Sinterklaasje, You Can Enter Without Your Servant)' in 1989, was the first who actively protested against the black Peter character. In the Amsterdam district Bijlmer (the urban part of Amsterdam) she pamphleted a primary school with the message: zwarte piet is zwart verdriet (black Pete is black grief).

It obvious that black Pete is racist. Before this became an issue, black Peter often spoke broken Dutch with a Surinamese accent. After the protests black Peter gradually stopped speaking "pigeon" Dutch.

So to end, some more videos on this Dutch tradition (update).

Black Peter: what exactly is the problem?

"Yes, I like Sinterklaas. I celebrated it when I was a kid . Then it didn't bother anyone if it was black Pete. When you're a kid you don't look at it too seriously. It doesn't bother children. I don't think adults should make a big deal out of this. It's just fun for everyone.".

Black Peter from an American perspective

Saturday, November 14, 2009

UK film /event: ‘Find her keep her’ Official Premiere

Spotted on Madnews
The premiere of the highly aniticipated UK film Find Her Keep Her will finally take place on the 20th November. Premiere: 20-11-09 Vue Cinema, The O2 Centre, Greenwich, London.

Set in london, FIND HER KEEP HER is about 3 friends out in search for MRS.RIGHT.T his movie stars Kojo(MTV Base comedian), Rachel Ritfeld( MTV's hip hop candy), Bianca Simmone, Jordan Pitt, Natalie Duvall, Raymond Burrell, Alison Naomi.

This film is, in a certain way, a real black European film, because one of the stars is Surinam Actrice/model Rachel Ritfeld. Surinam born Riffeld has lived in Belgium, and now lives in England.

Film synopsis:

They are the wealthiest players in town. They live the fast life,drive fast cars,live in plush apartments in the posh areas of London. Life can’t be better, money, fame the girls, but one thing they aim for is finding her and keeping her.
Jide, a property developer lives with his fiancée of 4 years, Abi. He’s a workaholic who hardly spends time with Abi. He loves her to death and wants to marry her, but oblivious to him, she has a dark secret.
Fred,an entrepreneur lives the lifestyle of a young millionaire. He cruises in the latest cars in town. Owns a few bars from west London to north London. Hes a big spender who loves to floss. But inside this larger than life character is a baby, crying to be loved and cared for. Fred cannot commit to a woman for fear of being heart broken and used. He feels every woman he meets is after his money. But he meets Michelle. Can he keep her?
Chike, a systems analyst works in one of london’s top prestigious software companies. He works hard and plays hard equally. He has ambitions of owning his own software company. He’s a self proclaimed player who has little or no respect for women. He lives a comfortable life,loves flashy fast cars and WOMEN. He has a 6yr old son from a previous relationship. But what happens when he meets Simone, an independent, sophisticated woman.

For more information:

Sabrina Starke wins the Edison Public Prize (Netherlands)

Dutch Jazz / Pop Singer Sabrina Starke confirmed her status as fan favourite by winning the Edison Public Prize. Earlier this year Starke won the Edison Best Pop award for best newcomer. She receives the Public prize for her debut album Yellow Brick Road. Starke is under contract with Blue Note Records.

The Public Prize is an initiative of the Edison Foundation and Jazz Magazine. In recent months readers of the magazine voted for their favourite artist and album. Starke received over 42 percent of the vote, chased by the Wicked Jazz Sounds Band with their album The Biggest Sin.

A Woman's gonna Try; The new Official Music video by Sabrina Starke , from her album Yellow Brick Road (C) bluenote 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Black media organisation AFROTAK wins second prize in competition “RESPEKT GEWINNT!“ (Germany)

The Afro-German media organisation AFROTAK cyberNomads has been awarded second place for its contribution in the competition „RESPEKT GEWINNT!“ of the “Berlin counsel for Democracy”.

The award ceremony of the Berlin counsel for Democracy will be held 02/12/2009 at 18.30h in HEIMATHAFEN in Neukölln.
More information at:

AFROTAK cybernomads was awarded second prize for the spoken word video, were black German, Afro German and blacks in Germany were invited to perform a spoken word piece about respect, tolerance and humanity.

After been awarded as BEST MEDIA Projekt 2005 by the African Youth Foundation, and as BEST MEDIA Projekt 2008 by Foundation for Democracy and Tolerance of the federal government, this new price will be added to the list.

AFROTAK cyberNomads

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dutch television host criticised for impersonating a black woman

Is it blackface or not, that is the question. Dutch television host Wendy van Dijk transformed herself into a stereotype black Antillean woman to fool Dutch Celebs. She called her Lucretia Martine, the weather woman from Curaçao. It was a transformation like Eddy Murphy did in the Nutty Professor. But there is one big difference, Wendy van Dijk is a white woman.

The television show is a big hit in Holland, already 2 million viewers watched the first show. But not everyone is happy with Van Dijk's creation. Surinam Actress and Singer Lucretia van der Vloot and and Author Clarck called it ridiculous.

Within the Surinamese and Antillean community there is criticism that Van Dijk stereotyped Antillean women: thick lips, fat ass, lazy, and always talking about sex.

But the criticism of Van der Vloot and Accord is not about the fact that she impersonated a black woman, but that she played an Antillean woman, but talked as Surinam woman. Which is the same as playing an American woman, but talking like a Jamaican. Writer Accord feels that Van Dijk should have known better, because she went to a black urban school in Amsterdam Bijlmer.

Wendy van Dijk’s act also sparked criticism on the media in general. At this moment Van Dijk’s Antillean woman is the only 'black' woman on Dutch television. Black people aren't underrepresented they have become totally absent on Dutch television.

Van Dijk says she doesn't understand the criticism: "I am only trying to play a funny, independent and well spoken woman."

The marketing agency of the Dutch Antillean island Curacao is happy with Van Dijk’s Curaçao woman act. They have offered her a contract to promote the Island.

Van Dijk also played a Japanese woman called Ushi, Lucreatia Martina, the weather woman from Curaçao, is her latest creation.

Update: see the interesting discussion on Shadowandact about blackface and and the Dutch Antillean character here

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

KINGSMEAD EYES: black children documented their world (UK)

Spotted on Africa is a country
Kingsmead Eyes is the result of a unique collaboration between photographer Gideon Mendel and 28 pupils from Kingsmead School in 
Hackney. The children documented their world over six months, photographing their friends, families, community and school to create an accomplished and vibrant body of work. At the same time, Mendel, working in parallel to the children made portraits of every child in the school as well as also documenting the life of the area.

This video installation is part of the Kingsmead Eyes exhibition on display at the V&A Museum of Childhood from 7 November 2009 till 7 February 2010.

The Kingsmead Estate, home to many of the pupils, is recognised as among the highest 4% for deprivation in the UK. The estate has suffered from a negative reputation in the past but conditions have improved in recent years and regeneration initiatives have encouraged a stronger sense of community. The school has played a major role in this turnaround, striving to achieve the highest standards with academic achievement above the national average – all the more impressive considering that 85% of pupils speak English as a second language. The success and creativity of the school has long been a source of local pride. For this project the ten year-old pupils were trained in the use of digital cameras in a series of workshops led by photographer, Crispin Hughes.

Kingsmead Eyes

A very interesting view in the lives of young black European children.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Singer Izaline Calister won the Dutch Edison Award 2009

Dutch Antillean singer Izaline Calister won the Dutch Edison Award 2009 in the category Jazz/world music. The Edison Awards are Grammy Awards of The Netherlands. She received the Edison for her album Speransa. The award ceremony will be held on November 19th.

Calister’s first videoclip just has been released. The song is called ‘Mi Pais’ (My Country) and tells about her love for her sometimes hampered island. It is a track of her latest cd-release, ’Speransa’. The clip is shot on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao.

Izaline Calister's official website

Monday, November 2, 2009

Marie NDiaye is the first black woman to win France’s top literary prize (Prix Goncourt)

Today French-Senegalese writer Marie NDiaye (42) won France's top literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, for her novel Trois femmes puissantes [Three Strong Women], a novel on family, betrayal and the hellish ordeal of illegal migration from Africa. She is the black woman to win the prize.

Marie NDiaye was born in France, she is the daughter of a French mother and a Senegalese father. NDiaye was raised by her French mother in Pithiviers, a provincial town south of Paris. After her father returned to Senegal, she did not travel to Africa until she was in her 20s. She now lives in Berlin with her three children

Marie NDiaye is the sister of historian Pap NDiaye.

Marie NDiaye: “I grew up in a world that was 100 percent French. My African roots don’t mean much, except that people know of them because of the color of my skin and my name,” she said recently.

“I don’t represent anything or anyone,” she said. “I have met many French people raised in Africa who are more African than I am.”

While she rages at the discrimination still faced by French blacks, NDiaye says she has been sheltered by her writer career.

“I have always had a quite special, marginal life, the life of a writer lucky enough not to have to ask anyone for anything,” she said.(AP)

It’s great achievement for a black woman in France, and it’s also a sign that France is changing. But there’s one thing about Marie N Diaye that leaves me puzzled. She says her African roots don’t mean much to her, but she does write about Dakar and the black migration experience. Apparently roots does matter.

Trois femmes puissantes [Three Strong Women] is the book beneath the French media’s spotlight this rentrée. Three, tenuously linked narratives. At their heart, three women who say no.

Forty year-old Norah arrives at the home of her father in Africa. An egocentric tyrant, he has now become silent and bulimic, and spends his nights perched in a tree in the courtyard. Why did he ask her to come? The answer, Norah discovers, is worse than she could have ever imagined.

Fanta, who used to teach French in Dakar, had to follow her partner, Rudy, to France. Here, Rudy proves incapable of providing her with the rich and joyful life she deserves. He remains under the morbid influence of his mother, who dedicates her life to convincing her entourage of the existence of angels.

Destabilised, Rudy wanders through an angry reality, while Fanta, by his side, is a rock. Khady Demba is a young African widow. Penniless, she tries to find her distant cousin, Fanta, in France. The long journey of emigration she pursues will be punctuated with unspeakable suffering. (source: French book news)

Read: Black woman wins Prix Concourt for the first time

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Singer Leona Lewis talks of experiencing racism in London store

Photo and copyright: Ken Mckay - Leona Lewis with her parents at the X Factor UK (2006)
Spotted on Madnews
Singer Leona Lewis talks about experiencing racism in a trendy London store. An experience that left her devastated and angry.

Via The Daily Mail

‘I went into a shop while my dad waited outside because he was on the phone,’ she says. ‘I picked out a few photo frames, put them on the side to buy them and asked the lady who worked there about some other stuff in the shop.

‘She was incredibly stand-offish with me and I couldn’t understand why. I went up to the till and, at that point, my dad came in and started looking around. He picked something up and said, “What about this?”

‘I asked how much it was, but the woman told us to get out of the shop. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing and said, “Excuse me?” She said, “Get out of my store right now.”

‘I looked at her and asked, “Are you joking?” She said, “No, I want both of you to remove yourselves from my store.” I asked her what she meant, and why, and she said, “I don’t like the look of him.”

Pointing at my dad, she said, “I want him to go right now.” Stunned, I asked her, “What do you mean, you don’t like the look of him?” She said, “You know exactly what I mean. He’s been standing outside my shop and I want him to go. I know why you’re coming in here.”

‘She was implying that we were trying to steal stuff. She came up to my face, this close.’ Leona holds her hand a few inches from her face. ‘She was so loud, shouting, “Get out right now or I’m going to call the police.”

‘It was so shocking and disgusting. I couldn’t believe someone was shouting at me in front of so many people. I can’t stand confrontation anyway, but she was so rude. I completely lost it. I was crying and bawling. My dad said, “Come on, let’s go.” I said, “No. I’m not going. I’m going to call the police. This is racism.”

‘I was so angry. My dad had to drag me out of the shop. Afterwards, I sat in the car for ten minutes and was so upset. My dad was trying to calm me down but I was furious. What happened was awful – absolutely awful.

‘I’d never experienced anything like that, and I would never wish anyone else to. Being judged by the colour of your skin is horrible. My dad is really laid-back. He said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ve experienced stuff like that many times, especially when I was younger, so don’t be upset for me. I’m fine.”

‘Do you know what he did? He got my CD, went back in the shop and said, “You’ve just offended a really nice young lady. I just want to leave you this, so you can look and see who it is. This is my daughter. I’m not trying to cause trouble, but I wanted you to see that.”‘

I understand her father’s reaction, he wanted to show that his daughter is a famous singer. But this is racism, period. It's good Lewis talked about it, but they should really make a case of this and name the store.
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