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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

Journal Archives

Cold War Civil Rights.

I was surprised by the passage of the criminal reform bill in the Senate. https://www.democraticunderground.com/10142226626

We know that the bill has been in the works since Pres. Obama's administration with Loretta Lynch's DOJ investigations of some egregious police departments' practices and corruption. All of that and more the attorney general implemented while obstructionist Republicans blocked the reform bill, not wanting to give Obama a win.

I've read of the bill that's not as sweeping as I'd hoped and all sorts of reasons for its passage from 45 saving himself, his family and friends to helping white opioid addicts to, of course, it's easier to pass now since the country is on board because of the opioid crisis, and the Repugs are worried about 2020 elections, if not saving themselves from prison as well.

This happening now reminded me of another article on the history of Russia using America's "Negro Problem" to discredit the country. The article included a bit that I'd overlooked.

The beginning of the Cold War coincided with the beginning of the civil rights movement, and the two became intertwined—both in how the Soviets used the racial strife, and how the Cold War propelled the cause of civil rights forward. “Early on in the Cold War, there was a recognition that the U.S. couldn’t lead the world if it was seen as repressing people of color,” says Mary Dudziak, a legal historian at Emory, whose book Cold War Civil Rights is the seminal work on the topic.

As the United States tried to convince countries to join its sphere by taking up democracy and liberal values, the U.S. government was competing with the Soviets in parts of the world where images of white cops turning fire hoses and attack dogs on black protesters did not sit well—especially considering that this was coinciding with the wave African countries declaring independence from white colonial rulers. “Here at the United Nations I can see clearly the harm that the riots in Little Rock are doing to our foreign relations,” Henry Cabot Lodge, then the U.S. ambassador to the UN, wrote to President Eisenhower in 1957. “More than two-thirds of the world is non-white and the reactions of the representatives of these people is easy to see. I suspect that we lost several votes on the Chinese communist item because of Little Rock.”

“The Soviet propaganda was working. American diplomats were reporting back both their chagrin and the difficulty of preaching democracy when images of the violence around the civil rights movement were reported all over the world, and amplified by Soviet or communist propaganda. On a trip to Latin America, then-Vice President Richard Nixon and his wife were met with protestors chanting, “Little Rock! Little Rock!” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles complained that “this situation was ruining our foreign policy. The effect of this in Asia and Africa will be worse for us than Hungary was for the Russians.” Ultimately, he prevailed on Eisenhower to insert a passage into his national address on Little Rock that directly addressed the discrepancy that Soviet propaganda was highlighting—and spinning as American hypocrisy. Whenever the Soviet Union was criticized for its human rights abuses, the rebuttal became, “And you lynch Negroes.”

It was not only Little Rock that sparked passionate international outcry against the violence on black people in this country but also, in Alabama in '57, a black man named Jimmy Wilson was sentenced to electric chair execution for "stealing" $1.95 from his white female employer who threw the money at him after he asked for a loan. From Mary Dudziak introduction,"Ultimately the most effective response to foreign critics was to achieve some level of social change," from Truman to Eisenhower to Kennedy to Johnson.

Moscow never abandoned these tactics, which became known as “whataboutism,” even after the Soviet Union collapsed. The difference this time is that the Russians got better at penetrating the American discussions on these fraught subjects. They became a more effective bellows, amplifying the fire Americans built.

Russians have been fighting for our freedom :D

for so long

Came upon the history of Soviet/Russian involvement with African Americans during the 2016 presidential campaign after a condescending post reached me on FB, sent by 2 of my white liberal friends, both DUers, that blacks should not be dumb enough to fall for Russian trolls, think smart. As if AAs in huge numbers have fallen for Russian propaganda in the past. I was stunned by the tone especially since I saw many posts of whites thanking Putin and several thanking Mother Russia that were not taken seriously before 2016 election night.

I reject any narrative of Russia specifically targeting us as the cause of slightly lower AA voter turnout. I hope that our allies and anyone else who wander here keeps in mind that besides gerrymandering, restrictions on early voting, or requiring specific forms of voter identification that we as a group have Russians not only there but, of course, helping avowed racists here to suppress our vote. Just another thing we have to worry about.

One of my favorite early propaganda targeting African-Americans


How red Russia broke new ground in the portrayal of black Americans https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-08-31/how-red-russia-broke-new-ground-portrayal-black-americans

When The Soviet Union Tried To Woo Black America https://www.ozy.com/flashback/when-the-soviet-union-tried-to-woo-black-america/62517

Senegal Opens Museum of Black Civilizations--One of the Largest of Its Kind In the World

Four of 7 elders/founders of my African-American women's organization are on their way next year to visit Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, South Africa and Uganda. I'm excited to tell them about this.

What began as an idea proposed by Senegal's first president Léopold Sédar Senghor over 50 years ago, has now become a reality as Senegal has officially opened the Museum of Black Civilizations, one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Senegal's current president Macky Sall inaugurated the museum earlier today in Dakar. The design of the building, which contains 14,000 square meters of floor space and a capacity for 18,000 exhibits, was inspired by circular traditional homes native to Southern Senegal, BBC Africa reports. Its size is comparable to the National Museum of African American History in Washington, according to Al Jazeera.

The museum has been several years in the making, with leaders after Senghor putting investment into the arts on the back burner in the face of economic and political challenges. In 2011, President Abdoulaye Wade laid the foundation for the museum, but construction was halted due to a political transition, adds CGTN Africa News. The project was put into motion by Sall beginning in 2013, and has finally come to fruition through a $34 million investment from China—another indication of China's ubiquitous economic presence across Africa.

The museum, is dedicated to "decolonizing African knowledge" and hosts artifacts and exhibitions representative of both continental Africa, and its diaspora. The museum's first exhibitions showcase works from artists from Mali and Burkina Faso as well as from Cuba and Haiti. The diaspora in Brazil and the United States are also represented in the museum's collection.

As Al Jazeera reports, some of the works currently showing at the museum include "Memory in Motion" by Haitian artist Philippe Dodard, which depicts "the stages of enslavement from Africa to the slave ship to the Caribbean plantation with floating eyes," to quote the publication directly. As well as "Women of the Nation" which pays homage to impactful women of African decent.

In November, Senegal urged France to return 100 pieces of looted art, following the release of a report commissioned by France's President Emmanuel Macron, entitled The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage: Toward a New Relational Ethics. Macron had recently ordered 26 Benin artifacts to be returned to their country of origin.


Best of times, the worst of times

I don't know how to tell this because it happened so fast this afternoon at the supermarket.

A little over three hours ago, my sister and I decided to make a quick run. The best of time of the day because no rush-hour traffic and we were anticipating another onslaught of precious rain here in SoCal. We're being rung up at one of the registers near the entry/exit when an elderly African American gentleman with a cane walked in. I could tell that he was once a very tall man. He wore a black cap emblazoned with "Viet Nam Veteran Proudly Served" and a couple of other badges on his jacket. We looked at each other long enough to exchange a pleasant glance but he was clearly agitated, more frustrated though. I thought his distress was because no one was at the special counter near the door for cigs, money orders and stuff like that.

I smiled at him anyway and surprisingly he came directly to us as we were being rung up, talking. His voice was shaking and his cane was shaking. He spoke directly to us saying, "They tried to run me over! They said get out of the way, nigger. I told them I have the right of way! And you better be glad I don't have my pistol! I wish I had my pistol. I wish I had my pistol."

My heart sank but what could we say but I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Then he said, "I escaped Tennessee and came here to get away from that." And in unison we said, "It's everywhere," remembering the first shocking outright racist incident at our community college a few weeks ago. He said, "I'm 75 years old and I have heart failure and I was just crossing the parking lot. I told them white bastards, you better be glad I don't have my pistol!"

At this point, I get out of the line saying, They're cowards! We just left the cashier and went to him. We hugged him and he let us heap kisses on his neck and as far as we could reach on his face. Sister asked, "Are you okay?" He said, "I'm all right, girls. I'm all right. Get your stuff and get home safe."

He just needed everything to stop! and to be heard. I'm so weary and hope our tears will be gone with the rain come morning. Good night.

White Innocence

Gloria Wekker is a cultural anthropologist and emeritus professor of Gender Studies (Faculty of Humanities, Utrecht University). She was also the director of the expertise center GEM – Gender, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism in higher education – at the same faculty. In April 2016 her book: White Innocence; Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race, came out at Duke University Press and has, since then, sparked renewed discussions on gender, race and colonialism in Dutch media and beyond.

Prof. Wekker is Afro-Surinamese Dutch. She earned her doctorate at UCLA. As for white innocence, Prof. Wekker describes as follows:

It encapsulates a dominant way in which the Dutch think of themselves, as being a small, but just, ethical nation; colour-blind, thus free of racism; as being inherently on the moral and ethical high ground, thus a guiding light to other folks and nations. Notwithstanding the many, daily protestations in a Dutch context that "we" are innocent, racially speaking; that racism is a feature found in the US and South Africa, not the Netherlands; that, by definition, racism is located in working-class circles, not among "our kind of middle-class people;" much remains hidden under the univocally and the pure strength of will defending innocence. I am led to suspect bad faith; innocence is not as innocent as it appears to be.

More of her life, experience in America, and white innocence in her TED Talks.

Posted by Kind of Blue | Sun Dec 2, 2018, 02:37 PM (5 replies)

The Cat - Jimmie Smith plays Jimmy Smith

Heard this version of The Cat driving back home the other night. I had to pull over and just listen. I remembered the very ending to see if I could get the exact piece and lo! some wonderful person posted.

Posted by Kind of Blue | Sat Dec 1, 2018, 05:26 PM (2 replies)

For JHan: All I could think after Washington's Hub-Tones was Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

And it wasn't because of adversity

Posted by Kind of Blue | Sat Dec 1, 2018, 05:14 PM (2 replies)

Letter from a Region in My Mind - James Baldwin

From 1962: "Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves."

Long read here and the article itself but Baldwin's processing is invaluable.

"I underwent, during the summer that I became fourteen, a prolonged religious crisis. I use the word “religious” in the common, and arbitrary, sense, meaning that I then discovered God, His saints and angels, and His blazing Hell. And since I had been born in a Christian nation, I accepted this Deity as the only one. I supposed Him to exist only within the walls of a church—in fact, of our church—and I also supposed that God and safety were synonymous. The word “safety” brings us to the real meaning of the word “religious” as we use it. Therefore, to state it in another, more accurate way, I became, during my fourteenth year, for the first time in my life, afraid—afraid of the evil within me and afraid of the evil without. What I saw around me that summer in Harlem was what I had always seen; nothing had changed. But now, without any warning, the whores and pimps and racketeers on the Avenue had become a personal menace. It had not before occurred to me that I could become one of them, but now I realized that we had been produced by the same circumstances. Many of my comrades were clearly headed for the Avenue, and my father said that I was headed that way, too. My friends began to drink and smoke, and embarked—at first avid, then groaning—on their sexual careers.

Every Negro boy—in my situation during those years, at least—who reaches this point realizes, at once, profoundly, because he wants to live, that he stands in great peril and must find, with speed, a “thing,” a gimmick, to lift him out, to start him on his way. And it does not matter what the gimmick is. It was this last realization that terrified me and—since it revealed that the door opened on so many dangers—helped to hurl me into the church. And, by an unforeseeable paradox, it was my career in the church that turned out, precisely, to be my gimmick.

He does not know what the boundary is, and he can get no explanation of it, which is frightening enough, but the fear he hears in the voices of his elders is more frightening still. The fear that I heard in my father’s voice, for example, when he realized that I really believed I could do anything a white boy could do, and had every intention of proving it, was not at all like the fear I heard when one of us was ill or had fallen down the stairs or strayed too far from the house. It was another fear, a fear that the child, in challenging the white world’s assumptions, was putting himself in the path of destruction. He reacts to the fear in his parents’ voices because his parents hold up the world for him and he has no protection without them. I defended myself, as I imagined, against the fear my father made me feel by remembering that he was very old-fashioned. Also, I prided myself on the fact that I already knew how to outwit him. To defend oneself against a fear is simply to insure that one will, one day, be conquered by it; fears must be faced. As for one’s wits, it is just not true that one can live by them—not, that is, if one wishes really to live. That summer, in any case, all the fears with which I had grown up, and which were now a part of me and controlled my vision of the world, rose up like a wall between the world and me, and drove me into the church.

God had come a long way from the desert—but then so had Allah, though in a very different direction. God, going north, and rising on the wings of power, had become white, and Allah, out of power, and on the dark side of Heaven, had become—for all practical purposes, anyway—black. Thus, in the realm of morals the role of Christianity has been, at best, ambivalent. Even leaving out of account the remarkable arrogance that assumed that the ways and morals of others were inferior to those of Christians, and that they therefore had every right, and could use any means, to change them, the collision between cultures—and the schizophrenia in the mind of Christendom—had rendered the domain of morals as chartless as the sea once was, and as treacherous as the sea still is. It is not too much to say that whoever wishes to become a truly moral human being (and let us not ask whether or not this is possible; I think we must believe that it is possible) must first divorce himself from all the prohibitions, crimes, and hypocrisies of the Christian church. If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him."


Eden Ahbez - Nature Boy

eden ahbez — who insisted that his name be spelled without capital letters, claiming that only “God” and “Infinity” and “Love” were worthy of capitalization — might have been one of the first hippies in California, but he is probably even better known, even if you didn’t know his name, for writing “Nature Boy,”one most enduring pop ballads of the last sixty-plus years. Visit the website of the filmmaker here for an upcoming documentary on ahbez https://bcxists.wordpress.com

Sources on just about everything in his life differ, in fact, but we do know that ahbez eventually ended up in Los Angeles in 1941, where around the age of 33 years or so, he got a job playing piano at the Eutropheon, a health food/raw food restaurant on Laurel Canyon, owned by John and Vera Richter, from Fargo, North Dakota.

John Richter known in the greater L.A. area for his lectures about the German Naturmensch and Lebensreform life-reform philosophy, a kind of Easter religion type of lifestyle that encouraged the eating of health food (mostly raw fruits and vegetables), and only taking alternative medicine when needed, being liberated and naked (whenever possible — otherwise, they usually wore sandals and flowing white robes), having an open-minded and voracious sexual appetite (some of them were bi-sexual too), wearing their hair long and growing their beards long too, and living as close to nature as possible.

When Cole heard the song, he loved its haunting melody, somber harmonics and mystical lyrics, and he started performing it at his concerts. However, when it came time to record and release the song, a problem arose. No one had any idea how to get in touch with ahbez to get his permission to release the first recorded version of the song. In fact, nobody in the music business seemed to know who ahez was, and he certainly wasn’t listed in the phone book.

Miriam Makeba - Pata Pata (Live 1967)

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