Windrush Generation and British Legacy

Hours after the Windrush story broke the UK Prime Minister May has been forced into damage control mode to apologize to Black leaders. Is this the opportune moment to force the reparations issue? Here is a link to The Sun newspaper article – Windrush generation – when did the children arrive, are they in the […]

via The Windrush Generation, NOT Welcome in England — Barbados Underground

Visit Transportation Transformation: Migration, Teleportation & Railways, a 2013-14 Oxford University Arts and Humanities Research Council cultural engagement project based largely on narratives of Windrush Generation in northern UK. Excerpts below:

 

Black Panther

DSC_0021- croppedI resisted reading the movie reviews before seeing Black Panther.  In fact, I reveled in my friends and colleagues post-viewing display of elated exuberance;  and I also hurried away to not be within earshot of important plot reveals.   That said, I liked the movie, as far as movies go, I hold it in good regard.  I particular like the post-viewing reactions of those to whom I am invested. I will not write a review here; this has been done eloquently by a number others, most notably Jonathan W. Gray February 13, 2018 review in The New Republic.

While I enjoy the feel good energies Black Panther by revenue calculations succeeds in doling out in droves, the movie made me pause.  Really, I walked out of the movie theater in a state of suspended pause.  I wanted the exuberance I have witnessed from those close and dear to me, but something in me felt decidedly flat emotionally.  In the immediate hour following the movie I intellectually rummaged though my memory of it, in an attempt to discover what has hit me the “wrong way” and why, although I had experienced two plus hours of Black people in Afro-futuristic splendor on the movie screen, I un-appreciatively flat.  A friend hit on it first, “why do you think there were no women leaders in the movie?” As I began to list the general and her army of women, in speaking I realized that she was not a leader.  She was a (for all intensive purposes) a drone, serving whoever sat in the seat of the throne, even if the ideals of the throne ran counter to the occupant’s actions.  I will return to the notion of drone later; for now, I will list my concern about the movie:

  1. Wakanda appears to be a  fantastical place where sameness, one cultural family or five communities.  Outsiders to Wakanda are not welcome, unless of course  it happens to be a white man who in a moment of ill-fated bravado takes the bullet for the King.
  2. Regardless of race, in the end the privileged, wins
  3. On the note of privilege, privileged in life mean also privileged in the spiritual world (in death), with ancestors to fill the tree of life.  But interestingly, no female ancestors.  Or, maybe, the female ancestors only speak to female royalty.
  4. Healing technology is limited to the mechanism of technology understood from a western framework.  Spiritual technologies, which has served many in diaspora spaces are auspiciously absent from this movie.  In short there is no medicine in Wakanda for the post-traumatic- racism syndrome (disorder?) evident in many African diaspora bodies, especially those from the U.S., the diaspora space focused on in the movie.
  5. Now speaking of drones: really? What we have in Wakanda is an entire society tuned to drone for whomever is the sitting king.

I am fully aware that Black Panther is just a Disney movie.  I accent the word just because the cultural and social imagination of the past and future are shaped be cultural products such as Disney movies.  In fact, Disney movies have been an essential social tool,  shaping ideas of gender, class, and body-value for generations; often doing so with the assent of those destined to be most harmed by Disney rubric wielded as an appropriate assessment tool.   For me it is imperative to not surrender to the uncritical somatic elation that Disney has mastered for generations, and Black Panther is full of this. You cheer (or feel a sense of relief) when the super-awesome ‘bad guy’ dies.  His death (through the dual tensions of conquest and ill-timed martyrdom)  allows the movies to have the ‘neat pseudo-moralistic’ ending necessary for Disney movies. Now,  the world can go on as it has been, only with the added veneer of change also necessary for the Disney formula.  Forget that in the end the rich privileged guys (yes men) continue to make decisions for the decidedly un-rich voiceless (leader-less). Also, forget that traditional western gender roles are strongly inculcated (regardless of the brilliance, physical and mental prowess, or wisdom) and left unchallenged.  Here, forgetting is a necessity as audiences to the tune of one billion-plus U.S. swam to the box office, and ‘Wakanda forever!’ slogans and physical gesturing play out on the global stage.  Uncritical somatic elation… I left this movie with the gut knowing that all the feel good was problematic given that I am an African Diaspora person.

A word or two more on the social and cultural imagination:  Prior to  2018, when the term Black Panther was deployed it pointed to the revolutionary group that began in the 1960s, the Black Panther Party, who redefined, through tangible social, cultural, and political action, what change looked and felt like in a world bent on negating and erasing the value of African Diaspora lives and bodies.  Now, and for the foreseeable future, when the term Black Panther is deployed the cultural imagination will routinely rest on Black Panther, the Movie. This is more than just a casual tragedy, as if such a thing exists.

 

Vacation Plans

GroundWe walk through life privy to conversations that mean nothing to us as we pass along on sidewalks, sit in cafes, cue on bank and grocery lines, and generally go about the mundane activities that make up daily life.   Occasionally though bits and parts of conversations stick to us and with us.  This post is about one such conversation which took place on November 8, 2016.

In my post-voting haze of the early morning (I was at the voting poles at 6:30 am), I darted through the streets of Manhattan trying to keep my mind focused on the topic I was to discuss at an early morning meeting. The thick and toxic political environment of the political campaign had taken its toll on everyone in my circle of friends.  And, though I had no illusion about it ending at any in the near future, I did have moments of dreaming that occasionally the edges would not feel so hard.  In any case, it was a sunny day and I had done what I could.

As I moved to the streets, I overheard a short conversation between (what I imagined to be) a mother and her young daughter.

Daughter: Mom did you vote?

Mother: Yes, I did?

Daughter:  How do you know who to vote for?

Mother: We sometimes its hard, but today I voted for the person who would allow the family to have nice summer vacations.  This way we can see more of daddy.

Daughter:  Uh… Are we going to have a nice vacation?  Will we get to spend more time with daddy.

Mother:  I hope so.  If the right person wins we will get to to have a long vacation.

In my mind I frequently imagine the undertow of this exchange between mother and daughter.  Who did mommy vote for?  Are they having/planning a nice vacations?  Has anything in the political moment inspired the daughter or mother to reflect on voting conversation? What price are we willing to pay for a ‘nice’ vacation? What price are we comfortable in asking others to pay?

Hmmmmm…

 

Colorism

The dark and light of Colorism.  How does colorism perform on the local and global in the shaping of identity for African and African Diaspora women and girls? I share two conversations.  What are your thoughts?

I was an active audience participant in the below audience discussion.  As you will see from the video of the play, the sharing by the production team, and the audience discussion, there are a full load of complexities on the table.  The play itself begins at 3:16 and ends at 20:34.  The audience discussion begins at 22.58.  The Director of the Multicultural Center in Cambridge speaks at the beginning of the video and at times during the video’s transition from play to audience discussion.   What are your thoughts?