Monday, January 31, 2011

Beblack TV – New Black French TV channel

Alfred Jocksan (agence de Presse GHM)
BeBlack TV is the new black TV channel in France. The channel will broadcast black culture programs for families and young adults. The channel was launched January 20the in Paris by the founder, Guadeloupe-born and French Guianan, Gadjar Sebastian (30).

Present at the launch party were his team, and personalities and celebrities in the broadcasting and music business. Among them French R&B singer Lynnsha and Zouk singer Sir Wesley. See a full photo report at FXG

BeBlack TV will be available in metropolitan France (Freebox) , the French West Indies, Guiana and Reunion (Mediaserv).

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Black European Summit of 2009. A Transatlantic Dialogue.

While interviewing Wouter Van Bellingen, a black Flemish politician here in Belgium, I discovered that in april 2009 there was a Black European Summit held in Brussels. I missed this event completely and had never heard about it.

Still when doing a search in google I couldn’t find much about it. The Summit's declaration and an article on (just two references). That article gave me more insight in the meaning and purpose of that summit.

More than 30 Afro-European and ethnic minority parliamentarians, experts and policy-makers came together with Black American policy makers to share ideas on fiscal and racial matters that continue to divide societies on both sides of the Atlantic.
The article on states that recent statistics show that in Britain and Europe the unemployment rates of African Caribbeans are nearly double that of white people. British reports say the rates are three times that for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, and civil rights groups say they are off the charts for Romas on the continent.

Editor of The-Latest Marc Wadsworth said: "For me the most important thing about the event will be the opportunity for black and minority ethnic politicians and activists from America and Europe to meet, share ideas and make concrete plans for how we are going to tackle the major challenges facing our people."
The Black European Summit's initiative reflects according to The Latest a common transcontinental fear, among public intellectuals, writers, artists, scholars, educators and students, media journalists, policy-makers in human and civil rights, and leaders of heritage and workers' organisations.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Romelu Lukaku: Belgium’s 17 year old Football Star

Lukaku is just 17 years old and is the most popular football player in Belgium. He was born and raised in Belgium. He is still very young but started a professional career last year when he was only 16 years old. Still, the boy keeps his head cool and reacts in a very adult way to the whole media hype that surrounded him since last year. A documentary about his school was screened last year on Belgian national TV. It is a must see.

Lukaku is very popular. He is not only a good player. He is also handsome, well educated, soft spoken and perfectly bi-lingual (Dutch-French). National TV loves him and decided to make a documentary series about his high school, interviewing his class mates and recording daily life at a Flemish Brussels school. The school’s pupils represent more than 60 nationalities. The language in class is Dutch, but during entertainment and free time most like to speak French, while at home they often speak another language (Arabic, Lingala, Swahili, Italian, Spanish, Albanian, Serbian, Berber … you name it).

The documentary is of top quality . While it doesn’t try to create a fairy tale image of multicultural schools in Belgium, it doesn’t do the opposite either and doesn’t draw a pessimistic image of the urban multicultural reality. The documentary shows the problems and issues, but also draws attention to the beauty of it all. Our world is changing and these kids represent the future generations of Europe.

Below I post the trailer video. Of course, it is in Dutch but I will soon post these video’s with English subtitles. Meanwhile just check the images and sounds. Oh, and there is also this commercial for Bueno featuring him.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Last chance to apply for the 2011 Creme of Nature Community Action Award - 31-01 (UK)

Last chance to apply for the UK 2011 Creme of Nature Community Action Award. Applications for the Award have to be in by the 31st January 2011.

The Award

The Creme of Nature Community Action Award is all about giving something back to the community that has supported one of the most well known brands in the hair and beauty market for the past 30 years. If you or your organisation has a dream, now is the chance to make it a reality. Imagine what £10,000 cash could do and what it could achieve, then tell us why you need it, and what you intend to do with it.

Applications are welcome from individuals to small groups, but priority will be given to those who have an annual turnover of less than £50,000.

This Award is all about making a real difference. So if you are small with a big idea and just lacking funding, the Creme of Nature Community Action Award could be just what you need to make your dreams come true and start to make a real difference to the community you serve.

What can the money be used for?

There are very few limitations.

It’s up to you to decide what you could do with £10,000. Remember the Community Action Award is a single payment of £10,000. That can take any organisation a long time to save. It can transform the work you do today, into the work you dream of doing in future, for the community you serve. And remember there are 4 runners up cash awards as well.

The Programme for 2011

Applications can be sent from the 10th September 2010 – early applications are appreciated this year as the Judges may decide to meet more than once as the number of applications have increased over recent years, and it will give them greater opportunity to review your application.

Applications will be received up to the 31st January 2011

During February 2011 the Judges will announce the 5 finalist.

The 2011 Award will be £10,000 and there will also be 4 runners up who will also receive cash awards.

1st runner up £1,750

2nd runner up £1,000

3rd runner up £750

4th runner up £500

It will be up to each finalist to promote their cause and get the most online votes from the 1st March to the 31st March 2011. Votes can come from anywhere - one vote per person. It could be a lot of fun, and a great way to get your local community to find out what you do now and what you could do in the future if you won the award.

The presentation will be in the Steve Biko Building in Manchester in late April or early May 2011.


Application form

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vote: Send Lola Akinmade to the North Pole

Stockholm-based travel writer and photographer Lola Akinmade wants to go the North pole with Quark Expeditions.

Quark Expeditions is looking for a blogger to cover their June 2011 Artic Expedition..but Lola needs our vote first.

Lola Akinmade is now an established travel writer and you can read her articles on the Matador Network and in the Heart and Soul magazine. Read more about Lola Akinmade at

To vote go to

Monday, January 24, 2011

2011 is the International Year for People of African Descent (or The International Year for Black People?)

The UN launched 2011 as The International Year of People of African descent 2011. Through this symbolic action the UN wants to stress the importance to eradicate racism, of which according to the UN, people of African descent all over the world are the most important victims.

This more than 50 years after most African countries gained independence and nearly 50 years after the US Civil Rights Bill was passed (1964), giving equal rights to black people in the US and abolishing formal segregation.

When thinking of people of African descent, or the African Diaspora, people often think automatically about the African-Americans in the US and sometimes black people in Brazil. We often overlook the fact that there are black people all over Latin America (from Mexico to Chile), Europe and even as far as Pakistan, Iran and India where little communities of African descendents often live an isolated life (For more info on Siddi click here). The year is a chance to bring the presence of peoples of African descent all over the world, and their history, into focus.

Check the video below from the UN webcast in which the International Year of People of African Descent was launched. It is pecular to notice how everybody avoids the use of 'black' as a valid word to designate the group of people they talk about. The choice goes for 'People of African descent' or the new word combination 'Africa Descendants'. These choice of words is in itself worth a through research entitled 'From Negroes to Africa Descendants. On How Black People Have Been Named and Defined throughout Western History'. Basically they are right to do so, as Africa Descendents are often not literally 'black'.

Another interesting contribution on the topic can be found on the OBV (Operation Black Vote) UK-website on this link

Book: Bob Marley blacked his hair with shoe polish in order to fit in

The book I&I: The Natural Mystics of Colin Grant has revealed that Bob Marley was so angst-ridden over his race that he used shoe polish to blacken his hair.

I&I: The Natural Mystics: Marley, Tosh and Wailer, highlights the insecurities the Jamaican-born reggae legend - who had a white father and a black mother - faced during his teenage years.

In the book, his widow Rita Marley recalls how her husband was so aware of bullying for being mixed-race that he asked her to 'rub shoe polish in his hair to make it more black, make it more African.'

"When Marley moved to Trench Town in Kingston aged 13 he was thought of as a white man and would have got a lot of grief for that," Grant told The Guardian.

Grant added that while this part of Marley's life was well known in Jamaica, it is the first time that the extent of his insecurities and prejudices he faced has been revealed.

The author, Colin Grant, interviewed some of the singer's relatives and those close to him for the book, which is published in January (released on the 27the).

Read more:

About the book

Over one dramatic decade, a trio of Trench Town R&B crooners, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley, swapped their 1960s Brylcreem hairdos and two-tone suits for 1970s battle fatigues and dreadlocks to become the Wailers—one of the most influential groups in popular music

From youth to early adulthood, they had been inseparable; united in their ambition, through musical harmony and financial reward, to escape Jamaica’s Trench Town ghetto.

On the cusp of success however, they’d been pulled apart by the elevation of Marley as first among equals and by the razor sharp instincts of Chris Blackwell, the shrewd and charming boss of Island Records.

I & I: The Natural Mystics examines for the first time the story of the Wailers, arguing that these musicians offered a model for black men in the second half of the twentieth century: accommodate and succeed (Marley), fight and die (Tosh) or retreat and live (Wailer).

It charts their complex relationship, their fluctuating fortunes, musical peak, and the politics and ideologies that provoked their split.

Following their trail from Jamaica through Europe, America, and back to the vibrant and volatile world of Trench Town, Grant travels in search of the last surviving Wailer. He unravels the roots of their charisma, their adoption of Rastafari, their suspicion of race pimps and Obeah men (witch doctors), and their quest to become not just extraordinary musicians but also natural mystics.

I & I is a remarkable story of creativity, squandered talent and fierce ambitious rivalry – a mix of reportage and revelatory history by one of our best and brightest non-fiction writers.

Colin Grant is an independent historian and BBC radio producer. The son of Jamaican emigrants, his first book, a biography of Marcus Garvey, Negro with a Hat is also published by Jonathan Cape.

Website at

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Video: German Singer Xavier Naidoo - Bitte hör' nicht auf zu träumen + Tour 2011

German singer Xavier Naidoo will start his German and European Tour 2011.

In January he will start his tour in Berlin, Hamburg Zurich and other mayor German cities. And from March he will fly over to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Copenhagen and Warsaw. See tour dates at

In the video "Bitte hör' nicht auf zu träumen" ("Please, don't stop dreaming") Cassandra Steen performs as background singer of Xavier Naidoo.

Events: Black History Month 2011 and reading "Home Story Germany" (Germany)

Black History month 29 January - 6 March 2011 in Hamburg.

Next Event: OPENING PARTY, Sa. 29.01.2011, 22:00h, Café Schöne Aussichten. On the progam:
- Edutainment: AfroKitchen Kolibri
- Black poetry Night
- The AfroAmerican and the Afro-German Experience
- Film Metropolis Kino
And many more interesting events. For more information check

Staged reading: Home Story Germany

Lived - experienced Black German history (histories). A staged multimedia reading of anti-racism trainer and author ManuEla Ritz and author Dodua Sharon Otoo.

Monday 31 January
20 Clock
Frankfurter Hof
Augustinerstr. 55
55116 Mainz

See more information about Home Story Germany at

Video: Mamouland African-American women vs Black European women

"Why do Black European people comment on African American videos as if they know what are problems are about," asks African-American cartoon figure Denise Black British Alisha.

An interesting video. But what I missed in the dialog is how African-Americans and Afro-Europeans look at race relations. Most Black Europeans live in in a different racial situation. Because I can only speak for myself, I know that if I forget the race issue in America I sometimes draw the wrong conclusions on certain social issues.

See the video and judge for yourself.

"Time is Love" - International Video Art Exhibition curated by Kisito Assangni (Italy)

Time is Love.4 [Show 1]
International Video Art Exhibition
curated by Kisito Assangni
Saturday 22 january 2011
Centro Contemporanea d'Arte Ticino
Via Tamaro 3
6500 Bellinzona

Time is Love is an annual show taking place at different venues around the world for each edition. Kisito Assangni is an artist and post-globalization curator currently living between London and Paris. His artworks and projects primarily question post-globalization impact and psychogeography.

His works have been shown internationally, including the Musee des Arts Derniers / Galerie Octobre, Paris; ICA, London; Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York; The Illinois Institute of Art, Chicago; Bluetenweiss, Berlin; New Art Projects, Beijing; Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town (South Africa) among others. He is the founder and curator of Time is Love Screening.

Kisito Assangni was born in Lome (Togo) and currently lives between London and Paris. He is a visual artist and curator whose artworks and projects primarily question post-globalization impact and psychogeography.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Video: 25 Years of ISD: Initiative Black People in Germany (update)

Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD-Initiative Black Germans) celebrated their 25 years of existence in 2010 and made a little video (with English subtitles) to commemorate this event.

I am happy to post their video now so that people all over the world can experience how ISD keeps on moving, producing and organizing for the benefit of the black community in Germany and will keep on doing this in the future.

I want to thank them again for the great welcoming they gave me when visiting their annual meeting last summer. See my post about the visit here.

Video of 25 years ISD (2010)

For more information about ISD and the annual meeting ('Bundestreffen') go to Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD) at

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What is the Black Atlantic? My Comparative Perspective

Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic (1994) is a difficult read but it’s a very influential book. An author who builds further on Gilroy’s work and who writes very accessible books about blackness is Livio Sansone (professor of anthropology at the University of Bahia, Brazil). His book ‘Blackness Without Ethnicity’ (2003) was a very insightful read that I recommend to anyone interested in the subject. In this book he compares black Brazilian experience and cultural production with the African American experience (check this blog on the difference between black US and black Brazil experiences). One of the chapters of the book even goes further and is based on his research among black youth in Amsterdam compared to black youth in Bahia and Rio. Generally Sansone has written interesting articles about balckness and Western Afro cultures (check this article) . Below I will give my understandings and perspectives on the Black Atlantic, as an inherent part of the broad social and cultural entity called ‘The West’.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Black European Meets Skinheads

Last year I went to Berlin to visit a friend who moved there. During my trip I experienced something special. Most of my friends told me I was totally crazy to have done what I did. They might be right, but I think that this story deserves a place on this blog.

It was a last minute decision so I couldn’t get a seat reservation anymore in the high speed train between Cologne and Berlin. I decided to go anyway and ended up in an overcrowded train sitting on the floor in the hallway. Sharing the hallway with me were, among others, two Russian dudes who looked kind of tough. Bald head, bomber jacket, big chains. They had plastic bags full of beer cans and were drinking the whole time. I tended to ignore them, they definitely looked like skinhead hooligans and I supposed they wouldn’t consider me a potential friend. It turned out I was wrong.

I read a book and tried not to look up at them. I succeeded quiet well during the first hours (the trip took about 6 hours), but I noticed that one of them gave me a sympathetic nod once in a while. It crossed my mind for a few seconds that he might be gay, but I quickly decided against it. They looked definitely very straight. Some time halfway between Cologne and Berlin one of them asked me in perfect German if I wanted a beer. I hesitated for a second, it was too early in the day for being drinking, but being tired of reading the same book for more than three hours in a row, I thought why not and accepted the offer. It was a holiday anyway. We started to chat, they turned out to be more German than I thought. I saw it as a good opportunity to oil up my German before reaching Berlin.

They shared more beers with me until there were none left (and they had brought many). I decided to buy some in the bar and to pay them more drinks. Half an hour before reaching Berlin we had drunken all the beers there were in the train’s mini bar. I felt kind of drunk and they were definitely a bit drunk too. But it was clear that they were better drinkers than I was, more used to heavy drinking. Everybody was looking at us, a strange trio, but we couldn’t care less, talked all the time and laughed together.

The time I passed with them drinking beer was very pleasant. They were curious to know where I was from and I explained. I asked them the same question and they turned out to be Germans of Russian descent, but also the other way around, Russians of German descent. I didn’t understand immediately and they started to explain their story.

Actually since the late middle ages until the early 20th century, Germans migrated to Russia for new opportunities. These people assimilated to Russian culture although some kept a distinct German identity. They lived all over the Soviet Union. When the iron curtain fell and the Soviet Union collapsed Germany accepted any person who could prove to be ethnically German to get a German passport and come back to Germany. Many Russians of German descent jumped on the opportunity.

These two guys were descendants of Germans who migrated to Russia generations ago, maybe centuries ago. Their surnames sounded German, but that was about the only thing German about them. They told me that their parents moved to Berlin in the early 90’s. They were still very young children then and they grew up in Germany. But they kept on speaking Russian in the household, lived in predominantly Russian neighborhoods and made mostly Russian-speaking friends.

They stressed the common experience they and me had as children of migrants, as people who never really belong, as people who share the experience of displacement and multilingualism. I liked that thought. And as our conversation evolved I started to ask questions too, about how they look, about how they can be perceived as racist skinheads and so on. They stressed that they weren’t racists, they said they were victims of racism too, that German people hated them.

I was fascinated and listened while the conversation evolved to football and Saint-Petersburg, the team they both supported. One of them was even such a big fan that he travelled all over Europe to see all matches Saint-Petersburg had to play abroad. He said he liked to travel, to see different places and that his love for football was a good excuse to do it. But still I couldn’t stop thinking that the guy really looked like a prototype hooligan who might be nice to me now, but who would have kicked my ass in very different circumstances.

When getting closer to Berlin they asked me if I already had plans. I actually didn’t, I only planned to see my friend in a few hours as he was still at work. So I still had some time to kill. They invited me to join them. They would go to one’s place and have some more drinks there and watch some video’s. They told me they had nothing to do that day, they worked hard for several weeks on a construction site and had some cash to spend now. Again I hesitated. Where would I end up? What would a black guy with dreadlocks do with skinheads? Did they try to trick me into some man hunting? The wildest thoughts went through my head? But my intuition, more than movies or politics, told me these guys were really all right. They were actually very friendly, warm, generous and sympathetic. My adventurous, crazy and anthropological me said just to go for it. So I accepted their offer and followed them into Ost-Berlin. After half an hour with metro and busses we arrived at some apartment blocks. I had kept a sharp eye on the itinerary so that I would easily find my way back. First we went to the shop to get some more beers and then went to one of them’s place.

We started drinking again and watching Youtube. I drank slowly. They wanted to show me video’s of hooligan fights in Russia, some hip hop video’s and so on. They started to roll joints, two more skinheads came in. All were friendly to me although I saw some surprise in their eyes. They spoke Russian with each other sometimes, so I couldn’t understand but I was tempted to think that they saw me as a potential danger to them too. Who was I? What was I doing there? All understandable questions, and I guessed the other two assured them that I was OK.

I spend around 2 or 3 hours there, the owner of the place was getting very very drunk, too drunk actually. He started to put some Saint-Petersburg Hooligan video’s with songs. He sang them along and he started to do the Sieg Heil sign while singing. I was kind of embarrassed about it, and I noticed that the three others were too. They tried to assure me that it’s just football and that I shouldn’t feel threatened. The thing is that I didn’t feel threatened. Was I naïve? Maybe so, but the truth is that nothing happened to me, the atmosphere was very relaxed and everybody was friendly and nice to me. I even went out once with one of the new guys to get some more beers and he was actually very soft, he wanted to know about me, was curious about my experience of being black in Europe and so on. I thought that I may have been the very first black person this guy actually talks to (instead of shouting racist slurs to). These guys were not stupid, they were just low class immigrants with a lot of frustrations, just like many other immigrant kids. They were put into a situation in which they had to talk to me as human beings to human beings.

I had stopped drinking after a while, I didn’t want to lose control. The two guys I met on the train were way out there now. Fortunately the two others were still kind of sober. The main language spoken was often Russian now and I couldn’t really follow. I said that I had to go now, as I had a meeting with some friends, we shared e-mails and phone numbers, gave each other ‘man hugs’ and I left. Still, I didn’t feel like having a lasting internet relationship with these guys, so I gave an e-mail I nearly never use and a wrong phone number. I never tried to reach them again though.

Later that evening I told my story to my Berlin friend who said I was lucky not to get killed. I knew the stories of Adriano and other black Germans who were killed by skinheads in Germany. But I still don’t know, I think that the context gave me an opportunity to discover something I only had prejudice against and didn’t know. At the same time, without wanting to do it, I let them experience something they didn’t know. Still, they were the ones who offered me a beer, they were the ones who smiled sympathetically at me, and they were the ones who invited me in their home. I realized that I could have met the exact same 4 guys in a very different situation and that they would have seen me as an easy target to ventilate all their aggression and frustration, they could have killed me. But the thing was that at that time and place they wanted to be my friends.

The next day I was eating a quick snack in an antifa (antifascist) vegatarian snack bar in Friedrichshain and reading a magazine that lay there for customers. There was an article about hooligan skinheads and their use of fascist symbols, mostly by Russians. A study had shown that many of the kids using the nazi symbols didn’t even really know what these symbols stand for. They know it’s anti-communist and they know it is anti-establishment and that it shocks and scares people. As far as they are concerned it works for their purpose, it is not about history repeating itself, it is about expressing anger, aggression and frustration. Against everything that’s politically correct and socially accepted. Maybe they saw my dreadlocks as an expression of the same thing.

It’s maybe not all that strange. Skinhead culture has black roots after all, check these video’s below to discover a strange twist in musical history and racist attitude.

This is of course about England in the 70's, and not about Russian-German Hooligans in the 21st century. Still, I think that being a skinhead is first and for all an anti-establishment style, more than a political stance. Of course I do not ignore the dangers this 'style' has for all people who look like me.

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