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Kind of Blue

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Gender: Female
Hometown: California
Member since: Fri Aug 29, 2008, 09:47 AM
Number of posts: 8,709

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Some Diaspora News: Black in the USSR and Race and Place in Brazil

“When people ask me about my background I usually start by explaining how my mum is Russian, my dad is Ghanaian and that I was born in Bulgaria,” says the photographer Liz Johnson Artur. “It often becomes a long explanation.”

Johnson Artur spent her childhood in Bulgaria and then Germany and has been based in Britain since 1990. Her father was unable to return to Bulgaria and is now settled in Ghana. She only met him for the first time in 2010. After doing so, she felt moved to start documenting the stories of other Russians of African and Caribbean origin. “Most black Russians that I met in Moscow and St Petersburg had also grown up without their fathers. Some had been fostered or grown up in children’s homes and had never met their mothers. But we all agreed that we felt Russian as well as African.”

Most of her subjects, who often describe themselves as Afro-Russians, had grown up without much contact with other black people or with little of the shared culture and identity familiar to African-Americans and black Britons. “The amount we know about our African heritage varies from individual to individual,” says Johnson Artur. What they do have in common however, is a history of struggle against a commonly encountered resistance to the presence of black people in Russia. “Those who grew up and live in Russia still have to justify on a daily basis the fact that they are Russians too.” Johnson Artur hopes her project will go some to connecting and making visible the generation of black Russians that have grown up calling the country home.

Rita de Cássia Pereira Costa, a 31-year old maid that passed the OAB (Brazilian Lawyer's Guild) exam

Brazil is a society constructed very much upon class and race. There’s simply no way to deny this (although people still try). Perhaps no better evidence of this is elite reactions to seeing traditionally poorer, mostly black classes ascending in life and frequenting places where previously only those elites and their families frequented. We previously touched upon this in a piece entitled “80% of Brazil’s new middle class is black and upper and upper-middle class consumers are none too pleased about it”. We’ve also made reference to the rejection of those deemed “out of place” by privileged classes who have voiced their discomfort with this presence in the racist graffiti that has been found in numerous university campuses throughout Brazil, most recently at the University of Campinas.

This resentment is real as college student Lorena Cristina de Oliveira Barbosa came to see it when she was told that “she’ll only be a maid, or will need to use her black sexuality’ to move up in life” or as Matheus Pichonelli documented well in his article “The maid has a car and travels by plane. Then why did I go to college?”

This is to say that, being part of Brazil’s elite is not only based on one’s economic status and means of frequenting certain exclusive areas, but also enjoying the fact that so many others cannot. https://blackwomenofbrazil.co/2016/04/20/the-resentment-of-studying-in-the-same-classroom-as-the-black-maids-daughter/

The Rise and Fall of 'Free, White, and 21'

Free, white, and 21” appeared in dozens of movies in the ’30s and ’40s, a proud assertion that positioned white privilege as the ultimate argument-stopper. The current state of contention over the existence and shape of white privilege weaves back into the story of this catchphrase: its rise, its heyday, and how it disappeared. White America learned the same lesson as the society woman saying “free, white and 21” to the fugitive: you can’t be sure to whom you are speaking. Every time a movie character uttered this phrase so casually, they were giving black America a glimpse into the real character of American democracy. Decades before it came to a head, they inadvertently fed the civil rights struggle. The solution to this problem would be quintessentially Hollywood, and thus quintessentially American—a combination of censorship and propaganda that would erase “free, white, and 21” from films, from public life, and nearly even from national memory.

Yet it took women to popularize the phrase—or fictional women at least. The expression figures in romance narratives starting as early as 1856. Later, Dorothy Dix, the nation’s first advice columnist, would recycle it, directed to young women. If the primary sphere of influence for the white male was in the voting booth, for the disenfranchised white woman it was the home. Her privilege was narrow but vital: to choose which white male to share it with.

White newspapers said nothing about this. But when the phrase began appearing in movie after movie, the black press took notice. “There seems to be a tendency on the part of the moving picture industry to use the above phrase at every slight opportunity,” wrote Walter L. Lowe beneath the headline “Free, White, and 21” in the Chicago Defender in 1935. He wasn’t sure whether Hollywood used it because it was considered “timely and clever” or because it “further inflates the ego of their white patrons,” but, he continued:

Why, he wondered, would studios keep using a phrase that was “unfair,” “unsportsmanlike,” and, with “3,000,000 colored American moving picture lovers,” likely unprofitable? The saying, he concluded, “cannot substantially add anything to the pleasure of white moving picture-goers,” yet it “can detract considerably from the serenity and the pleasure of the colored people.”

SOLUS (Short Movie), on Shadow and Act, Museum of UncutFunk and

at the Black Science Fiction Society today, SOLUS (Short Movie)

Carl is a man in his fifties, who’s trying to lead a normal life in an unusual situation with his friend Eddy. One day, while he’s looking for food, he finds Sam, unconscious. Carl brings him back home. When Sam wakes up, he will question Carl’s way of life. The latter is going to understand his meeting is maybe not due to chance.

Posted by Kind of Blue | Tue Apr 5, 2016, 06:29 PM (2 replies)
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