Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"A Moment of Silence" by Emmanuel Ortiz

A Moment of Silence

Before I start this poem,
I'd like to ask you to join me
in a moment of silence
in honour of those who died
in the World Trade Centre
and the Pentagon
last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you
a moment of silence
for all of those who have been
harassed, imprisoned, disappeared,
tortured, raped, or killed
in retaliation for those strikes,
for the victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing...
A full day of silence
for the tens of thousands of Palestinians
who have died at the hands of
U.S.-backed Israeli forces
over decades of occupation.

Six months of silence
for the million and-a-half Iraqi people,
mostly children, who have died of
malnourishment or starvation
as a result of an 11-year U.S. embargo
against the country.

Before I begin this poem:

two months of silence
for the Blacks under Apartheid
in South Africa,
where homeland security
made them aliens
in their own country.

Nine months of silence
for the dead in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, where death rained
down and peeled back
every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin
and the survivors went on as if alive.

A year of silence
for the millions of dead
in Vietnam-a people, not a war-
for those who know a thing or two
about the scent of burning fuel,
their relatives' bones buried in it,
their babies born of it.

A year of silence
for the dead in Cambodia and Laos,
victims of a secret war ... ssssshhhhh ..
Say nothing ... we don't want them to learn
that they are dead.

Two months of silence
for the decades of dead
in Colombia, whose names,
like the corpses they once represented,
have piled up and slipped off
our tongues.

Before I begin this poem,

An hour of silence for El Salvador.
An afternoon of silence
for Nicaragua .
Two days of silence
for the Guetmaltecos .
None of whom ever knew
a moment of peace.

45 seconds of silence
for the 45 dead
at Acteal, Chiapas
25 years of silence
for the hundred million Africans
who found their graves
far deeper in the ocean
than any building could
poke into the sky.
There will be no DNA testing
or dental records
to identify their remains.

And for those who were
strung and swung
from the heights of
sycamore trees
in the south, the north;
the east, and the west...

100 years of silence...
For the hundreds of millions of
indigenous peoples
from this half of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen;
In postcard-perfect plots
like Pine Ridge,Wounded Knee,Sand Creek, Fallen Timbers,
or the Trail of Tears.
Names now reduced
to innocuous magnetic poetry
on the refrigerator of our consciousness .

So you want a moment of silence?
And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shut

A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust

Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence -

You mourn now as if the world will never be the
And the rest of us hope to hell it won't be.
Not like it always has been.

Because this is not a 9-1-1 poem
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem
This is a 1492 poem.
This is a poem about
what causes poems like this
to be written

And if this is a 9/11 poem, then
This is a September 11th poem
for Chile, 1971
This is a September 12th poem
for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977
This is a September 13th poem
for the brothers at Attica Prison,
New Yor k, 1971.
This is a September 14th poem
for Somalia, 1992.

This is a poem
for every date that falls
to the ground in ashes

This is a poem for the 110 stories; that were never told
The 110 stories that history
chose not to write in textbooks
The 110 stories that CNN, BBC,
The New York Times,
and Newsweek ignored

This is a poem
for interrupting this program.

And still you want
a moment of silence
for your dead?
We could give you
lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces
of nameless children

Before I start this poem
We could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit

If you want a moment of silence,
put a brick through
the window of Taco Bell,
And pay the workers for wages lost
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses,
the jailhouses, the Penthouses and
the Playboys.

If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton's 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt
fills the room where my beautiful
people have gathered

You want a moment of silence
Then take it
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second
In the space
between bodies in embrace,

Here is your silence.
Take it.
But take it all
Don't cut in line.
Let your silence begin
at the beginning of crime

But we,
Tonight we will keep right on singing
For our dead.
Emmanuel Ortiz

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Beyond the Bricks: Challenging the Challenges Faced by African American Boys

Produced by Washington Koen Media and supported by the Ford Foundation, Beyond the Bricks is a documentary film project and national community engagement campaign created with the goal of promoting solutions for one of America’s critical problems in education: the consistently low performance of black males in school. The film follows African-American students Shaquiel Ingram and Erick Graham as they struggle to stay on the track in the Newark, NJ public school system. Weaved into the boys’ stories is commentary from some of the country’s foremost leaders, experts and scholars focused on black boys and their education including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and Schott Foundation President Dr. John Jackson, among others. Though the film focuses primarily on students from Newark, NJ, the issues addressed there extend to urban enclaves throughout the nation.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

21 Reasons Why Black Organizations Fail

21 Reasons Why Black Organizations Fail

by Haki Madhubuti

1. Don’t have an accurate understanding of the Institution’s programs and objectives. Do not attend briefing sessions and therefore find yourself unable to push the programs of the Institutions.

2. Don’t attend meetings. If you do attend come on your own time and leave when you get ready even it it’s in the middle of the meeting.

3. Never offer constructive advice or criticism to the Institution and if you have anything negative or inimical to say, say it on the outside where it can be heard only by the enemies of the Institution.

4. When a decision is made by the collective, go home and talk bad about the decision and do nothing unless it is in opposition to the collective decision.

5. Upon becoming a part of the Institution, always push your personality or the program and refuse to adapt to the programs and personality of the Institution.

6. Always find fault with the people in positions of responsibility, and do not discuss it with them, but go to the enemies outside the Institution with your criticism.

7. Be as inactive as possible while always talking about what the Institution is not doing and what “it is” supposed to be doing.

8. If asked about your inactivity, space on the question and talk about the inactivity of others to cover yourself.

9. When attending a meeting, always sit in the back of the room where you can talk while the proceedings are going on.

10. Get all the benefits the Institution can give, but give nothing back. This will surely limit the growth of the Institution. Always try to take more than you put in.

11. Talk collective cooperation but never cooperate. Always eat but never bring food.

12. Never push the Institution: always push yourself at the expense of the Institution and its programs

13. Never bring new people. Talk about organizing, but don’t organize.

14. If you can’t get your way, threaten to resign and push to see that others leave with you.

15. Never fulfill your obligations. If asked to help, never have time. When you do take an assignment, half-do it.

16. Never become an “officer”, if elected. It is easier to bad mouth and talk about the irresponsibility of others than it is to assume responsibility and direct projects yourself.

17. Have the attitude that nothing is as important as your theories and ideas even if they have been proven unworkable and conflict with the Institution and Our people’s struggle.

18. When given an assignment never follow through to completion. And when confronted with your shortcomings, act insulted as if someone is questioning your commitment to the struggle.

19. Seek leadership positions, but do not work and study commensurate with the position you seek.

20. Always maintain a negative attitude toward the Institution as well as the members of the Institution. In fact, make negativism your program.

21. Never offer anything constructive in the development of an ideological or philosophical base to operate from, but be highly critical of what everybody else offers.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book review: 'The Warmth of Other Suns' by Isabel Wilkerson -

Probably the best book ever written about The Great Migration. Isabel Wilkerson is the first American African woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. A must reading...

Book review: 'The Warmth of Other Suns' by Isabel Wilkerson -

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Setting the Record Straight A Response to Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Setting the Record Straight A Response to Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

We, the undersigned, take strong exception to the Op-Ed, “Ending the Slavery Blame-Game,” published in the New York Times, April 23, 2010 by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. There are gross errors, inaccuracies and misrepresentations in Gates’ presentation of the transatlantic European enslavement system. Moreover, we are duly concerned about his political motivations and find offensive his use of the term “blame game.” It trivializes one of the most heinous crimes against humanity—the European enslavement of African people. Gates contradicts his stated purpose of “ending” what he refers to as a “blame-game,” by erroneously making African rulers and elites equally responsible with European and American enslavers. He shifts the “blame” in a clear attempt to undermine the demand for reparations.

The African Holocaust or Maafa, as it is referred to by many, is a crime against humanity and is recognized as such by the United Nations, scholars, and historians who have documented the primary and overwhelming culpability of European nations for enslavement in Europe, in the Americas and elsewhere. In spite of this overwhelming documentation, Gates inexplicably shifts the burden of culpability to Africans who were and are its victims. The abundance of scholarly work also affirms that Europeans initiated the process, established the global infrastructure for enslavement, and imposed, financed and defended it, and were the primary beneficiaries of it in various ways through human trafficking itself, banking, insurance, manufacturing, farming, shipping and allied enterprises.

No serious scholar of African history or reparations activist denies the collaboration of some African rulers, elites, merchants and middlemen. Indeed, collaboration accompanies oppression as a continuing fact of history. Historians have described collaborators in two other major Holocausts: the Jewish Holocaust and the Native American Holocaust. Yet Gates, ignoring the historical record, makes the morally unacceptable error of conflating three distinct groups involved in the Holocaust of enslavement: perpetrators, collaborators and victims. The Jewish Holocaust had its Judenräte, Jewish councils which chose Jews for enslaved labor and for the death camps and facilitated their transport to them, as well as its kapos, Jewish camp overseers, who brutalized their fellow prisoners along with the SS guards. In the Native American Holocaust, there were also Native American collaborators who fought with the Whites to defeat, dispossess and dominate other Native Americans. Thus, such collaboration in oppression is not unique to Africa and Africans.

Gates makes it clear that the article is written in the context of “post-racial posturing,” eagerly set forth by a nation citing its first Black president as false evidence of the declining significance of race and racism. Indeed, this is a period of resurgent racism reflected in the rise of the Tea Party movement, increasing hostility toward immigrants, open public recommitments to embracing and celebrating the history of racial oppression, joined with the fostering of fear to facilitate the continued denial of civil and human rights.

The purpose for Gates’ misrepresentation of the historical record is to undermine the African and African descendant reparations movement, and to make it appear to be based on unfounded demands. An accurate reporting of the history of the Holocaust of enslavement and the period of segregation and other forms of oppression which followed it, attests to the importance, in fact, the essentiality of reparations. The widespread opposing responses to Gates and the anti-reparations interests and sentiments he represents in his article, provides us with an excellent opportunity to renew the just demand for reparations for centuries of enslavement and continued economic disadvantage and exploitation Black people endured in the Jim Crow era and subsequent years of wage slavery.

Gates’ flawed and misconstrued presentation of the global reparations movement to redress the injuries of the Holocaust of enslavement and subsequent labor exploitation attempts to leave the reader with the impression that the movement is only a product of misguided African Americans. However, legal battles regarding reparations for the European enslavement of Africans are being waged throughout the United States, Jamaica, Brazil, South Africa, The Virgin Islands, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Martinique, Canada, Namibia and Barbados. The United Nations declaration that 2011 is the International Year of People of African Descent will afford yet another opportunity to expand the reparations movement for the longest unpunished crime against humanity --- the European enslavment of African people. In this country, reparations scholars, activists and others will continue their efforts in support of the House Judiciary Committee, HR-40, which calls for a study of the economic, cultural and psychological impact of enslavement on United States citizens.

The record of the United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), held in South Africa in 2001, offers additional evidence of the global reach and relevance of the reparations movement and the work of Africans and African descendants in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora. Gates’ omission of these efforts and WCAR seems to suggest either a deliberate misrepresentation or a reflection of his distance from contemporary political movements in the international African community.

We, the undersigned, intellectuals, activists, artists, professionals, men and women from various fields of focus, assemble here from a call by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century united in our profound commitment to African people and with a long history of involvement in national and international issues involving Africa and people of African descent. Signing this letter is not simply to respond to Gates’ clear inaccuracies, misrepresentations and questionable timing, but rather to honor and defend the memory and interests of the victims of the Holocaust of enslavement. We have come together at this historical moment to bear continuing witness to this gross human injury and the continuing consequences of this catastrophic and horrific event and process, and reaffirm our renewed commitment to continue and intensify the struggle for reparative and social justice in this society and the world.

Committee to Advance the Movement for Reparations

Rick Adams Dr. Leonard Jeffries
Atty. Adjoa Aiyetoro Sister Viola Plummer
Dr. Molefi Kete Asante Brother James Rodgers
Herb Boyd Atty. Nkechi Taifa
Dr. Iva Carruthers Dr. James Turner
Dr. Ron Daniels Dr. Ife Williams
Dr. Jeanette Davidson Dr. Ray Winbush
Dr. Maulana Karenga Dr. Conrad Worrill


Adisa Alkebulan, San Diego State, President, Diopian Institute
Dr. Mario Beatty, Chair, African American Studies, Chicago State University
Keith Beauchamp, filmmaker
Dr. Melanie Bratcher, University of Oklahoma
Dr. Sundiata Keita, Cha-Jua, President of National Council for Black Studies
Dr. Lupe Davidson, University of Oklahoma
Dr. Joy DeGruy, author of "The Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome"
Dr. Daryl Harris, Howard University
Eddie Harris, filmmaker
Juliette Hubbard, Australian Aboriginal Activist
Rev. Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson, North American President World Council of Churches
Iya Marilyn Kai Jewett, Progressive Images Marketing Communications
Darryl Jordan, American Friends Service Center-Third World Coalition
Prof. Chad Dion Lassiter President, Black Men at Univ. of Penn School of Social Work, Inc
Haki Madhubuti, President/CEO, Third World Press
Dr. Emeka Nwadiora, Temple University
Dr. Patricia Reid Merritt, Stockton State University
Dr. Segun Shabaka, National Association of Kawaida Organizations--New York
Dr. Michael Simanga, Fulton County Arts Council, Atlanta
James Lance Taylor, President of National Conference of Black Political Scientists
Dr. Christel Temple, University of Maryland
Dr. Ronald Walters, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland
Dr. Valethia Watkins, Chair, African American Studies, Olive Harvey College
Dr. Komozi Woodard, Sarah Lawrence College
Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Pastor Emeritus, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago
Atty. Faya Rose Sanders, President, National Voting Rights Museum, Selma, AL
Leonard Dunston, President Emeritus, National Association of Black Social Workers
Betty Dopson, Committee to Eliminate Media Offensive to African People
Bob Law, National Radio Personality

Contact Information

Press Inquiries and Interviews via Herb Boyd: 917.291.1825 - Email:
General Information and/or Responses: 888.774.2921 - Email.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Henry Louis Gates Lets US off the Hook in 'slavery blame game'

Henry Louis Gates Lets US off the Hook in 'slavery blame game'

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. recently wrote an interesting piece for the New York Times called, "Ending the Slavery Blame Game." In the piece, Gates effectively argues that the fight for reparations is convoluted and somewhat mitigated by the fact that African elites participated in the slave trade. While describing complex business deals made between some African leadership and the Europeans who brought Africans to the New World, it almost appears as though Gates is saying that this disturbing relationship somehow undermines the right of African-Americans to hold our government accountable for its involvement in crimes committed against our people.

At very least, I am under the assumption that by "ending the slavery blame game," Gates is arguing that we should stop blaming the United States government and white America for the rape, murder, castration, lynching and beating of our ancestors.
Sorry Dr. Gates, but I must respectfully (or perhaps not so respectfully) disagree. If a young girl is sold into prostitution by her own parents, the pimp must still pay for the suffering he caused the young woman. He can't simply say, "Her parents made a deal with me, so you should stop the blame game."

In other words, the United States, as a broad and powerful industrial entity, benefited from slavery to the tune of several trillion dollars. Much of this wealth was passed down from one white man to another, and was always out of the grasp of the black men, women and children who gave their lives on American soil in order to earn it. As a result, the median net worth of the African-American family is roughly one-tenth that of white American families and we have consistently higher unemployment due to our inability to create jobs, since white Americans own most businesses.

These facts hold true without regard to how the African-American holocaust started in the first place. They also hold true because wealth and power are commodities that are passed down inter-generationally, and we missed out on all of this because we were slaves. What occurred after we left Africa can and must be considered independently from what happened while our forefathers were in the mother land.

Beyond the indisputable financial damage caused by slavery, there is also a price to be paid for pain, suffering and aggregate trauma. Even the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which abolishes slavery, has a clause stating that it's still OK to enslave another American, as long as that person has been convicted of a crime. Given that the United States incarcerates 5.8 times more black men than South Africa did during the height of apartheid, it's easy to argue that the human rights violations of American slavery continue to this day.

The arbitrary label of "convict" is used against black men in a disproportionate fashion as a loophole for American corporations to continue to profit from slave labor. I don't want to play the "blame game." But mainstream media must not play the "irresponsibility game," by promoting apologist African-American scholars who are willing to write off 400 years of systemically oppressive behavior. While the Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?" approach makes some of us more comfortable, the truth is that America cannot become truly post-racial until it overcomes its past-racial influences.

I am not sure why Gates has gone out of his way to assuage white guilt in America. I hope that's not the price a black man must pay in order to write an op-ed in the New York Times. Perhaps his PBS specials, in which he goes out of his way to prove that he is actually from Europe, is his way of fitting into the society that never embraced the little black boy from West Virginia (Gates writes extensively about being rejected by white women as a child). Henry Louis Gates seems to have spent his entire life proving to the world that he is a "big shot," because simply being a black man may never have been quite good enough.
As Gates once wrote on his Yale University application, "As always, whitey now sits in judgment of me, preparing to cast my fate. It is your decision either to let me blow with the wind as a nonentity or to encourage the development of self. Allow me to prove myself." Gates' words remind us that the damage of oppression can be debilitating, and we can spend our entire lives overcompensating. When our spirit is torn apart by racial oppression, white acceptance and validation are sometimes necessary in order to make us whole.

Putting Henry Louis Gates to the side, a point must be clearly made. If there are African elites to be held responsible for the atrocities committed against Africans in America, then we can accept that. But while certain citizens of Africa can be found guilty for their contribution to the slave trade, America must also be held accountable for its decision to exploit slavery over the last 400 years. It's really just that simple.

Henry Louis Gates Lets US off the Hook in 'slavery blame game'

Monday, February 15, 2010

Audacious idea: an overhaul of Black History Month

Audacious Ideas » Audacious idea: an overhaul of Black History Month

Monday, February 15, 2010
Posted by A. Adar Ayira, Project Manager of the More in the Middle Initiative, Associated Black Charities

In 1926, when Carter G. Woodson first advocated for “Black History Week,” not only were the contributions of African descendants ignored, but American history was deliberately whitewashed (pun intended). Those responsible for writing what we now accept as the popular history of this country whitewashed the contributions of people of color, whitewashed the white-supremacist aspect of the country’s foundation and history, and whitewashed the generational impact—economic, legal, political, business—of those decisions.

In the time between 1926 to 2010, much has changed, especially as it relates to the laws and customs that upheld racial oppression. The change is undeniable and should rightfully be celebrated, even as we continue to live with the impact of the legacy of American Apartheid.

So do we still need one month to emphasize and “celebrate” Black History? Here is an alternative: Let’s do an overhaul of what is represented as “American History” so that the history of those of European descent is not over-represented, while the histories of others who make up and contribute to this country are under-represented.

Every citizen should expect a more comprehensive and inclusive American history to be taught in schools each and every month of the year. As a country we should be ready to accept a history that is more truthful in its inclusiveness and in its honest recognition of the country’s deeply flawed character as relates to its citizens of color, without turning away, denying, or minimizing historical racial oppression or its continuing economic, educational, and social impact on Americans of African descent and other people of color.

Finally, I would audaciously propose that we take care to contextualize the history of this country in a way that emphasizes thoughtful and inclusive context over American mythology. Let’s go deeper than the use of constant staples such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and others whose lives and stories only skim the surface of a vibrant and robust history and the meaningful contributions of African descendants in America. Let’s stop framing their stories in a way that strips them of their essence and re-packages them in ways that negate the context of the times and the veracity of their causes.

Let’s go deeper than re-working the history of African descendants and other people of color to ensure that they are a “comfortable” fit for a historical context that is viewed from the lens of American mythology (“land of the free, home of the brave,” “all men created equal,” and the like) and from the lenses and perspectives of those who have had and continue to have a clear bias and agenda in promoting and maintaining this mythology.

The fact that there is still a need for Black History Month instead of a wholesale incorporation of it in American History—from the lenses and perspectives of those who generationally experienced the “backside” of the American experience—speaks volumes about who we are as a country; how we (still) feel about the truth of our history; and how far we have, and have not, come.

What If Sarah Palin Were Black? | | AlterNet

What If Sarah Palin Were Black? | | AlterNet

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mary J Blige - Hope For Haiti Now

This was my favorite performance on the HopeforHaiti Afrikan song stolen by Stephen Foster in 1854 and song by the incomparable, Mary J Blige...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Olbermann Slams Limbaugh And Robertson For Sick Comments

I mourn Haiti and I also have utter contempt for racist Rush Limbaugh and Pat ("I'm a Christian") Robertson.

Keith Olberman reflects my thoughts on both of these mindless blowhards...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Avatar, Africans and Racism: Some Brief Reflections on James Cameron’s Tale about White Supremacy

I’ve seen Avatar three times in the past five days.

Suffice it to say that Hollywood rarely makes direct references to racism/white supremacy especially when it comes to African people.

Avatar does it and does it well.

I loved the film because it is one of Hollywood’s best attempts to deal with the horrors of white supremacy and the African response to it. Julie Dash’s hauntingly beautiful 1991 film Daughters of the Dust was remarkable for its rendering of the intersection of racism, white supremacy and African spirituality. James Cameron’s latest film expands on Dash’s contribution by providing science fiction as a backdrop for discussing global white supremacy.

Avatar is not the first attempt at discussing racism in the context of science fiction. Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner, a rendering of Phillip Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, used androids (“skinjobs”) seeking freedom from their makers as metaphors for Black people pressing for civil rights. Here’s a dialogue between Harrison Ford, playing a bounty hunter (“Deckard”) and, M. Emmet Walsh playing a racist cop named (“Bryant”) discussing “skinjobs”:

Bryant: Hi ya, Deck...You wouldn't have come if I just asked you to. Sit down, pal. Come on, don't be an ass-hole Deckard. I've got four skin jobs walking the streets.

Deckard (voice-over): Skin jobs. That's what Bryant called replicants. In history books, he's the kind of cop that used to call black men niggers.

It is interesting that Dick wrote “Androids…”during the civil rights era --- the year that Martin Luther King was assassinated.

It is also interesting to note how white critics are making weak attempts to transform the blue Na’vi people into anything but Africans.

Repeat after me: The Na’vi are clearly Africans and here are the proofs:

1. All the lead roles are played by Black people (DUH!)
a. Zoë Saldaña plays Neytiri, the princess
b. C. C. H. Pounder plays Mo'at, the Omaticaya's spiritual leader, Neytiri's mother, and consort to clan leader Eytucan
c. Laz Alonso, plays Tsu’tey, Sulley’s rival for Neytiri and heir to crown of the Omaticaya
d. Wes Studi, plays Eytukan, the leader of the Omaticaya and is the sole indigenous character (Cherokee) among the clan

2. The phrase, “I see you” is taken directly from the Zulu (South African) greeting, "Sanibonani" which means, “I see you”. The reply, "Yebo, Sanibonani". “Yes, I see you”, has been widely used for centuries among the Zulu.

3. The Na’vi wear locs in their hair (not “dreadlocks”) throughout the film, a hairstyle that is as old as Egypt (KMT)

4. The dress of the Na’vi is an amalgam of south and west African clothing

5. The names of the Na'vi are direct borrowings from Africa. (Thanks to Charisma (below) for this insightful point. "The princess' name is Neytiri, which immediately caused me to think of Nefertari; a woman with beauty and brains who ruled in the new kingdom with her father. Another example is one that almost jumped off the page as I read your blog! Mo'at as the spiritual leader in the film (according to the blog), shares a profound reflection and parallel to the ancient Goddess Ma'at.

In ancient Kemet Ma'at is known as the female balance. There are 7 virtues of Ma’at, which are truth, righteousness, harmony, balance, reciprocity, justice and order. Ma’at is the symbol, energy or deity of truth justice and balance. There are 42 declarations of Ma’at that were used in ancient Kemet as a moral code for the living and the standard that the dead would be judged by."

White reviewers of the film are in a state of denial about likening the Na’vi to “indigenous Americans”. Historically, violent, rapacious, imperialistic, white supremacist attacks have not only been directed toward Africans, but indigenous people as well. Indeed, if Avatar doesn’t do anything else, it shows that white supremacy directs its malicious onslaught against all people of color both inside and outside of Africa.

The reaction to the film is also split along racial lines. Some white critics have referred to it as “cowboys and Indians in outer space”, or emphasize its “technical achievements” or dispassionately talk about Cameron’s innovative use of motion-capture animation technology. Black people see the film for what it is --- a metaphor of how Africans have been treated for centuries, and the European worldview that encourages environmental degradation, ignores the sacred and dehumanizes any group it seeks to subdue.

It’s hard for people --- mostly white --- and some people of color, to talk about the most troubling social issue of today --- racism but Cameron has made this task a little easier by providing a visual, political and spiritual experience which can become a vehicle for doing just that. Don’t spoil it by twisting the film into something it isn’t --- “cowboys and Indians in outer space”… (((sigh)))…

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

HP computers are racist

Even those who create seemingly "race neutral" technology are racist...

Monday, December 07, 2009