Monday, February 28, 2011

Should Black people travel to Russia?

Should people of color or black people go to Russia? The question was originally published as a blog post on the website Moscowthroughbrowneyes of a graduate student living in Moscow in 2009.

Because there is 'yes' and a 'no' answer I will post them both. And because Russia is a 'special' destination for black (and Asian) people I will also add a few links.

Should you go?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The challenges of biracial children in Russia

For biracial or mixed race children in Russia growing up can be a challenge. It often means being singled out at school, discriminated against and sometimes even being attacked by Neo Nazi skinheads.

But the Afro-Russian organisation for mixed race children 'Metis' supports the children and learns them to love themselves for what they are and shows them that they are not alone. And not without reason.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Video: Portrait Of Handworth riot in 1985 - Pogus Caesar (UK)

Black History UK: In 1985 racial tension and community discontentment escalated into the historical Handsworth riots that rocked Birmingham between 9th - 11th September 1985.

Birmingham film maker and photographer Pogus Caesar knows Handsworth well. He found himself in the centre of the 1985 riots and spent two days capturing a series of startling images. Caesar kept them hidden for 20 years. Why? And how does he see Handsworth now?.

The stark black and white photographs featured in the film provide a rare, valuable and historical record of the raw emotion, heartbreak and violence that unfolded during those dark and fateful days in September 1985.

See more information at BBC's Community features

Thank you Sabine for the information.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Black people in Russia - Yelena Khanga

You can't write about black people in Russia without mentioning Yelena Khanga.

Yelena Khanga - Еле́на Абдула́евна Ха́нга is one of Russia’s best-known black citizens. The popular host of a top-rated 1990s chat show about sex – “Pro Eto,” (About That), became one of the few black faces regularly seen on Russian television. Read her story at

She also wrote the book 'Soul to Soul: Story of a Black Russian American Family, 1869-1992'.

Yelena Khanga is also the daughter of Lily Golden, the prominent social activist who passed away last year (2010).

Yelena Khanga meets Maryum Ali (the Eldest daughter of Muhammad Ali) and British journalist Ann M. Simmons after 30 years.

In a Russian talk show Yelena Khanga gives interview about life and career.

See also, 'Red Africa, Exploring the legacy of international socialist relations with Africa in art, film, architecture and music', The Calvert Journal, special report.

Instagram of Yelena Khanga (Russian:Елена Ханга) at

Also read  Portraits of black people in Russia

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Video: Black in Russia - harsh life on the streets in Moscow

The constant fear of being attacked in the street or anywhere has become a way of life among Africans living in Russia. Majority of the attacks are racial motivated, according report.

Make no eye contact, avoid looking lost, travel between 8am and 5pm and always sit close to the driver on public transport – just some of the advice given to Africans upon arrival in Moscow. The harsh reality for a lot of Russia-bound Africans is that they may become victims of racist violence. (Source

Africans in Moscow Struggle with Snow and Harassment

Africans in Russia face hostility, but some succeed despite it

Interesting website: Asylum in Bardak - Africans in Russia at

Also see the post Russia: Afro Russians Discuss Discrimination

But although these videos describe a harsh reality, there are black people who are very positive about living in Russia.

This post was updated

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lily Golden, the Russian African-American social activist, has died

Lily Golden, the prominent Russian African-American social activist, scholar and mother of Russian TV-star Yelena Khanga, has died last year on December 6th 2010 at the age of 76, reported

As the daughter of Oliver Golden, an African American expatriate and agrarian activist of the early 1900's, and Bertha Bialek, youngest daughter of Polish American emigres of Jewish descent, Lily Golden has a special place in history.

Lily Golden was born (1934) in Uzbekistan and educated in the Soviet Union at Moscow State University, where she later worked in the Institute of African Studies and eventually became its director.

During the 1950s she also became a nationally ranked Sovjet tennis player, competing in tennis matches in Central Asia.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

S&A Filmmaker Challenge Winner “Black Swan Theory” By Nikyatu Jusu Debuts!

The US film blog Shadow And Act shows the completed 1st film of the Shadow And Act Filmmaker Challenge series. It's brought to you by Shadow And Act Films LLC; Nikyatu Jusu’s Black Swan Theory. See the post on Afro-Europe about the competition here.

Synopsis: A psychiatric casualty of war, recently returned to the US, Sonya’s imagined sense of normalcy crumbles around her; she must hunt or become the hunted.

To view the film go to Shadow and Act here and CLICK THE IMAGE to play the 12-minute film. You will need a broadband connection to view the film.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Video: 'With Wings and Roots' - Defining culture and belonging by people with immigrant parents

They ask: "Where are you really from?"
Via Der Schwarze Blog

Currently in production, 'With Wings And Roots' is a feature-length documentary and new media project set in Berlin and New York that explores what gets termed assimilation in the USA and integration in Germany.

The English subtitled trailer of 'With Wings And Roots'

The german trailer 'Wo kommst du wirklich her?' (Where are you really from) of Wings and roots, but with English speaking people and German subtitles

Set in two countries currently struggling with immigration and national identity, the film tells the stories of six children of immigrants from diverse backgrounds who are striving to expand their definitions of belonging. A wedding, a new career, applying for citizenship – through vérité footage and in-depth conversations, the protagonists go through personal rites of passage, each facing questions identity and belonging and finding different ways to root themselves.

'With Wings And Roots' takes a transnational approach to explore how young people in one old and one new immigration society are redefining culture, citizenship, race, and belonging in this era of unprecedented global migration.

Website at:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Film: Sonny Boy - A Dutch interracial love story

Sonny Boy is a Dutch big budget film based on the true story of a forbidden love between a black Surinamese man and a Dutch white woman that occurred in the first half of the twentieth century in the Netherlands. The film is an adaptation of the bestselling novel "Sonny Boy" of Annejet van der Zijl.

The Dutch film Sonny Boy opens in 1928 and tells the c story of Waldemar, a 19-year-old black student from Suriname (then part of the Netherlands), and a married Dutchwoman in her 40s, Rika, who fall head over heels in love.

A first test of the strength of their love arrives when they discover that she is pregnant. A second one arrives more than a decade later, when they hide several Jews in their home during WWII.

The film is directed by Dutch director Maria Peters.

The premiere was on January 27th.

About the book

Sonny Boy (and some pictures of the real family)

‘Sonny Boy’, the title of an Al Jolson song from 1928, was the nickname given to Waldemar Nods and Rika van der Lans’ little boy. 1928 was the year their impossible love began, a love they kept alive against all the odds.

The contrast could not have been greater: Waldemar was a seriousminded black student from Paramaribo in Surinam, not yet twenty, son of a gold prospector and grandson of a woman who had yet to free herself from the chains of slavery; Rika was the daughter of a Catholic potato wholesaler, warm-hearted and obstinate, a married mother of four, approaching forty when they met. She was his landlady. When he moved in she had only just left her husband and was penniless, living with her children in a tiny rented apartment in The Hague.

Drawing on archives, correspondence and interviews with family members, Annejet van der Zijl has reconstructed their astonishing love story. When Rika became pregnant the scandal was complete; her own family responded no less harshly than the outside world. Didn’t Waldemar came from a culture where male fidelity was notoriously lacking? And who would look after the moski moski, as the Surinamese would call him, the little brown-skinned boy with dark curls and blue eyes? They had no work, no money, no friends, and the Depression had begun. Perhaps hardest of all, Rika lost her other children after a fierce battle in which her husband was awarded custody.

Contrary to all expectations, the ‘impossible’ but hard-working and harmonious couple managed to create a prosperous business that generated a good income. Under Waldemar and Rika’s unconventional management, Pension Walda became a favourite haunt of revue artistes, colonials on leave from the East Indies, and German seaside holidaymakers. (On the photo 'Sonny boy' with his father on the beach in Scheveningen.)

But Sonny Boy is more than just a love story. It describes the everyday racism of the 1930s and the horrors of Nazism. When Pension Walda was requisitioned by the Germans during the occupation, Waldemar and Rika moved to a house where they soon had guests of a different kind: Jews in hiding. In 1944 they were betrayed and arrested. Both died in captivity. (On the photo 'Sonny boy' with his father on the beach in Scheveningen.)

Sonny Boy, in whom they invested all their desperate hopes and dreams, was left behind, alone. Annejet van der Zijl has done an excellent job of interweaving the personal history of one specific couple with the larger mainstream history of crisis, war and betrayal. (See source here.) In the picture (left) the present-day Sonny Boy.

Black critique

But there is some black criticism on the film. The extra dimension is of course the relationship between a white Dutch woman and a Surinamese black man, but some question if even by present-day standards a relationship between 19 year old black male and a divorced white woman of almost 40 with two children would be regarded as a “normal” relationship.

To some extend I agree with the criticism, somehow it seems that because Waldemar is black and “exotic” different norms apply.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Video: Sout al Horeya, 'the sound of freedom' (in Egypt)

A solidarity protest song titled Sout al Horeya, 'the sound of freedom', by Moustafa Fahmy, Mohamed Khalifa, and Mohamed Shaker. (Press the 'cc' button in the YouTube player for the translation.)

"I went down and I said I am not coming back, and I wrote on every street wall that I am not coming back.

"All barriers have been broken down, our weapon was our dream, and the future is crystal clear to us, we have been waiting for a long time, we are still searching for our place, we keep searching for a place we belong too, in every corner in our country.

"The sound of freedom is calling, in every street corner in our country, the sound of freedom is calling..

"We will re-write history, if you are one of us, join us and don't stop us from fulfilling our dream.

(Update) Video with English subtitles

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Les Twins - Hip-Hop dance duo from France

Via: NEO.Griot
Les Twins are a hip-hop dance duo consisting of the identical twins Laurent and Larry Bourgeois from Sarcelles, France. Their dance style is new style, a type of house hip-hop dance. They have made appearances on various dance competitions, such as Juste Debout, Battle of the Stylez, World of Dance and Urban Dance Showcase.

"Les Twins" on Planet Funk (Speak Out)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Colour Bar: A Belgian-Congolese Mixed Race in Search of His Identity. DVD OUT NOW!

My friend Roland Gunst is a film maker and musician who spend the last 5 years making a documentary about his search for identity. His film is entitled ‘Colour Bar’ and was first screened at the Mixed 2010 expo that we organized together last year and has been screened several times in Belgium since. It will soon be scheduled on national TV here in Belgium but it is now out and for sale on DVD (with subtitles in English, French and Dutch). You can purchase it via the website
Personally I think the film is of a high esthetic and informative quality. It is bilingual French/Dutch as the voice over is in French (his mother tongue) while many interviews were done in Dutch (his ‘father tongue’). He talks to several mixed race Belgians about their search for identity.

The film is a message to his parents. He tells us how in Congo he was considered white and called ‘mundele’ while when coming to Belgium as a 12 year old he suddenly was considered black and called ‘neger’. His search for identity has been dominated by this racial perspective.

Below the official trailer (unfortunately, no English subtitles)

For those who understand some Dutch (with a Flemish/Belgian accent), check this video featuring footage which didn’t make it in the final version of the documentary. This was a pre-trailer. The central question is: ‘My name is Roland Gunst. Who am I?’ (Mijn naam is Roland Gunst. Wie ben ik?)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Meet Miles Marshall Lewis - An African-American writer and music journalist in Paris

Miles Marshall Lewis is an African-American writer/editor in Paris France. He has published books a few books and has written for top magazines & newspapers like Vibe, Rolling Stone, and the Village Voice.

And he also has a great blog with stories about his live in France and with interviews with American black people in France.

Check out his blog at, and his stories 'French like me' on his blog here.

Miles Marshall Lewis in his own words. "I was born in 1970, the year Toni Morrison wrote The Bluest Eye and Afrika Bambaataa started to deejay.

My writing life began eleven years later, when Marvel Comics published my letter to the editor of Captain America.

Growing up in the Bronx during the 70s endeared me to hiphop culture from the start, hearing Kool DJ AJ spin records in St. Mary’s Park outside my grandma’s South Bronx window.

Penning magazine cover stories about Erykah Badu, Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest and Nas, I’ve also assumed positions at XXL (deputy editor), Vibe (music editor), (deputy music editor) and Russell Simmons’ Oneworld (literary editor) from 1998-2004. ...

As a native New Yorker, I felt the city change post-September 11 — NYPD backpack searches on the train, armed guards patrolling Grand Central Station — and pissed off over a Bush-misled America, I moved to Paris in the spring of 2004.

For over a year, I wrote about my experiences as a postmodern bohemian B-boy in a 21st-century City of Light for, a column called “Paris Noir.”

My encounters with French hiphop and black culture in Paris, in addition to marrying a Martinican woman and helping raise our two sons, have led to my next book, as yet untitled.

With one foot ever in NYC, I founded Bronx Biannual in 2006 as an urbane urban literary journal full of essays and fiction from celebrated and unsung writers who share the hiphop aesthetic. "

Read the whole story at his Blog

see a recent interview with Lewis here

Video of a winter tour through Paris (BlackAtlas/Nelson George)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Video: YolanDa Brown - Soulful Jazz from London

MOBO-AWARD winning saxophonist YolanDa Brown is widely regarded as the emerging “voice” of mainstream Jazz in the UK.

But Jazz is not her only talent. The 28 year old London born musician with Jamaican roots holds two Masters degrees and is studying for her PhD in Management Sience.

Brown's fusion of hip hop, gospel and contemporary R&B helped her win the Best Jazz category at the Music of Black Origin (Mobo) Awards in 2008 and 2009 and she has peformed at the London Jazz Festival and for the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in St Petersburg, wrote the Haringey Independent

She said: "I started playing the piano at the age of 7 and have been through quite a few musical instruments since then, but I just fell in love with the sax and it's stuck. When I play it, it's like my own voice.

YolanDa Brown performing Story Live at the O2

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black History Month 2011 - The Association of Students of African Heritage (ASAH) Netherlands

The Association of Students of African Heritage (ASAH) in The Netherlands cordially invites you to the fourth edition of Black History Month on 18th and 25th February 2011.

About ASAH
ASAH was founded by and for students who can directly and indirectly distract their roots from Africa and for those who have affinity with the African continent. ASAH activities are geared on providing members with opportunities to further develop themselves on a personal, professional, social and cultural level during the course of their studies. The activities organized by ASAH include Black History Month, Movie nights, Africa Rising, Social Lounges, Excursions and ASAH’s first trip abroad to London in 2010. The Student Association is based at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

Black History Month 2011

Theme: “The Economics of Culture – the way we dress, eat and express ourselves from an economic perspective”

Many African and Afro-Caribbean countries are endowed with resources that could stimulate economic stability and independence. However, many of those are plight by economic inefficiencies coupled with a constant dependence on global resources. For example, “one may see a black woman elegantly clothed with traditional attire. But her cloth may be from Vlisco (the Dutch manufacturer of African prints), shoes/slippers from Italy and earrings/jewelleries from Thailand. Instead of local manufactures many prefer Hollywood movies over Nollywood/Ghallywood/Black films or even opt for Indian Basmati or American Uncle Sam rice instead of locally cultivated rice etc”.

Considering the trends of commerce, “to what extent are we (Blacks) economically independent when we portray the African/(Afro-) culture”?

Programme Outline

Day 1: Friday February 18th – Culture and Entrepreneurship

The first day of BHM 2011 focuses on culture and the similarities between Blacks from the Diaspora and the African continent. It also provides an opportunity to explore the economic aspect of culture. Furthermore, day 1 serves as a window to showcase and promote Afro-businesses, as well as a means to network. The day is set up as follows:
• Through the conceptualization of culture and what constitutes the African/(Afro-) culture, a “Black Cultural Expert” will enlighten us with reference to the theme. The expert will talk about various developments in the Black culture over the years.
• Fashion show: Traditional clothing from the African continent and the Diaspora will be displayed. Two different kinds of clothing from the following areas is to be modelled:
o West Africa
o East Africa
o Southern Africa
o Former Netherlands Antilles
o Suriname
During the fashion show, information will be provided about the attires, their origins, designer etc.
• Entrepreneurs: After the fashion show, Mrs. L. Echtelt of Mariposa Import, will share her views on “Black consumerism and entrepreneurship”.
• Cultural treats/snacks: There will be cultural snacks to enjoy. Information will be provided about the ingredients used, its origin, the caterers and/or where to buy them.
• There will also be a spoken word performance by T. Martinus. The day ends with a Musical performance!

When: Friday, 18th February 2011
Venue: Surinaamse Jongeren Centrum Samen Sterk,
Zieken 103, 2515 SB Den Haag
A 3 minute walk from train station The Hague HS
Parking is available, free parking from 17:00
Doors open: at 17.30
The programme starts: at 18:00
Entrance: Free
Language: English and Dutch
Pre-Registration is appreciated, please sent a mail to

Day 2: Friday February 25th – Presentation and workshop entrepreneurship

The second day of BHM 2011 consists of a workshop and an interactive presentation at the Erasmus University.

• Workshop: To encourage the youth and BHM participants of African heritage to take initiative to become entrepreneurs, Ms. W. Gillis-Burleson – managing director of Legato B.V. and the best Black Business Woman 1997 – will give a workshop on empowerment and entrepreneurship. This workshop aims to equip participants with some fundamental knowledge, tools and skills essential for business for starters.
• Presentation: Mr. T. Kofi – Director of the Foundation Africa Next Door – will talk about the consumption trends of Black people and its consequences. Mr. Kofi will show the correlation between the African continent and Black communities worldwide. Participants or the audience will have an opportunity to ask questions or share their opinion. Amongst others, there will be a debate/discussion on “Does our culture inhibit us to enterprise?” during the discussion round.

When: Friday, 25th February 2011
Venue: Erasmus University Rotterdam,
C-Building, Room CB-109
Doors open: at 16.30
The programme starts: at 17:00
Entrance: Free
Language: English and Dutch
Pre-Registration is appreciated, please sent a mail to

We, ASAH, look forward to celebrate Black History Month 2011 with you! For further info: visit

Black History Month 2011 is presented in collaboration with NiNsee (Nationaal instituut Nederlands slavernijverleden en erfenis) see:
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