The election may be over yet BBC has forever altered my perception of it as a relatively balanced source of international news. I was watching BBC TV News last Monday evening, Nov 3, as the announcer chirpily announced there actually were other candidates in the U.S. election. Surprise! He proceeded to name and show photos, first Ralph Nader (independent), ex-Republican, now Libertarian Bob Barr (a U.S. Afrodescendant who seems to self-identify as "white"), and the third candidate? I was pretty well waiting for the newsreader to note Cynthia McKinney, the U.S. Green Party candidate. Was I wrong. Instead the Beeb names... Gene Amondson. Gene Amondson?? Have youheard of Gene Amondson? Has he, like Cynthia McKinney, been a six-term (or even a one-term) member of the U.S. Congress? I don't recall BBC bothering to mention Mr. Amondson's party affiliation (perhaps more obscure than his name, if that's possible). And so Tuesday, election day, I looked it up on the Net. Apparently he belongs to the "Prohibition Party." Prohibition? I thought that failed in the 1930s. Thanks to BBC News, Cynthia McKinney out, Gene Amondson in. Here's a deeper, bitter irony: Cynthia McKinney bears a British surname; like almost all Black Americans, probably linked to slavery. She carries a family name of British origin and yet, so uncharacteristically, the BBC had not even the slightest desire to acknowledge her, let alone brag about her, on the basis of UK ties to this U.S. presidential candidate and her almost certain British slave-trade family history. How sad; how racist.
Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney's running mate Rosa Clemente did a very informative interview earlier today with Kojo Nnamdi of WAMU-fm (part of American University). Great interview, Rosa. You can hear it online here. It seemed a bit strange when Clemente referenced history of the Young Lords political party and compared them to the Black Panthers. Nnamdi said most people were more familiar with the Panthers. I'm thinking this would depend on whom you talk with. Was Kojo being disingenuous? Also about the radio call-in from a Black American man who pointed out, accurately, the gulf of historical difference between Barack Obama's identity in and toward the U.S. (and the U.S. toward him) and that of the entire indigenous U.S. Black population, i.e. Black Americans.) Meanwhile, not only is Kojo Nnamdi himself "Black," he's a native of Guyana, and I'm happy for him. Guyana's a fascinating case. It's a South American country yet historically, culturally and demographically, identifies greatly with the societies and countries of the Black, English-speaking Caribbean. As a child of Guyana's Afrodescendant, Caribbean-identified people, is it that Kojo isn't really that familiar with the history of the Young Lords? Maybe or maybe not. In the end of all this, there's as much historical, cultural, geographic and blood heritage difference between Barack Obama and Black Americans as there is between Mr. Obama and the Afro-Guyanese.Ain't nothing really 'easy' or 'user-friendly' about the histories, peoples and realities of the Americas, especially we Black folks.In a more honest, transparent world Kojo could reflect a bit on this, think of his family, country and sub-region of his origin and its peoples, as distinct as the Black Americans, and then go and do a truly informative radio show on all the above.
By email, James Zogby's polling firm sent me their latest survey asking about my 2008 election intentions. The survey asked whether I plan to vote, for whom I've voted in the past, and for whom I may vote in the U.S. presidential election. Problem was, the poll even included a list of names with their political affiliations, but Cynthia McKinney, the U.S. Green Party's candidate (nominated at their Chicago convention in July), was excluded. Which four names and political affiliations did Zogby let poll-takers "choose" from?John McCain - Republican, Barack Obama - Democrat, BobBarr - Libertarian, and even Ralph Nader, this year running as "Independent"since the Green Party chose someone else. (You could wonder whether the foremost Arab American pollster would leave the perennial Arab American presidential candidate off his poll, even to the exclusion of the candidate actually nominated by Mr. Nader's former party.) This poll didn't even offer "other" as a category, nor a blank space in which to write-in a name. Interesting. All men and no Cynthia McKinney. Where are women's - and men's - voices on this? Ms. McKinney's exclusion from the Zogby poll is simply the latest reminder of the social and political times we're in. Then I came across a quote by veteran journalist Bill Moyers, from In These Times and re-published by truthout.org in a piece titled, Fourth Estate a Fifth Column? "Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent
In London in September or October 2004 this writer spoke on the panel, "Alliances We Need to Fight Racism" at the European Social Forum (Malmo, Sweden Sept. 2008). I participated as a member of the network Alliance of People of African Descent in Europe. Now, veteran Florida Member of Congress Alcee Hastings, who is Black American (and certainly likely, as most Black Americans are, a Euro descendant himself), has announced a hearing by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, or CSCE, a commission of the U.S. Congress. Mr. Hastings is CSCE chair. "The State of (In)visible Black Europe: Race, Rights, and Politics" will be held Tuesday, 29 April, at 10AM in Rayburn House Office Building. "The hearing will focus on the challenges and opportunities faced by the more than 5 million members of Europe's Black population amidst reported increases in hate crimes and discrimination, anti-immigration and national identity debates, and growing security concerns. The impact of recently introduced anti-discrimination laws and diversity initiatives aimed at ensuring and protecting equal rights for a population many do not know exists will also be discussed. ..." Invited participants are Dr. Philomena Essedof Antioch University, author of the book, Everyday Racism: Reports from Women of Two Cultures (1990), and member of Netherlands' Equal Treatment Commission; (UK) Guardian newspaper columnist Gary Younge; Joe Frans, vice chair of the UN Working Group on People of African Descent and former member of Swedish Parliament; Dr. Allison Blakely, Afro-European author and historian at Boston University; Dr. Clarence Lusane, international race politics author and faculty member at American University; and Afro-German actor Boris Kodjoe. Logically, Marian's Blog is very interested in this hearing and its outcomes. One hard look at the disenfranchised, excluded political condition of the people of the city of majority-Black Washington, DC, with NO VOTE in the very same U.S. Senate and House of Representatives where this hearing's being held, reveals a painful irony. Europe isn't the only place where Black people are ignored, disempowered, and treated as invisible.
There are lots of things I admire and love about my other home, Italia. Overall though, the public status of women is not one of them. I haven't yet heard how the voting is going today and tomorrow but I do keep thinking of so many reasons why Silvio Berlusconi does not deservea third term as prime minister. One need go no further than his attitudes and behaviour toward women, as outlined in Stephen Brown's recent Reuters article, "Berlusconi's sexism chafes as Italian vote looms." Chafe indeed. Here's a man in his 70s who always wears a dark wig and has undergone one or more cosmetic surgeries (facelifts) - in his constant attempt to make himself seem "younger" and (in Black American parlance) to pull women. He's married, by the way.
Brown quotes Berlusconi recently on the campaign trail, "The left has no taste, not even when it comes to women. ... As for our (women candidates) being more beautiful, I say that because in parliament they have no competition."
About Berlusconi, Brown writes: "His women supporters laughed when he called them the "menopause section" at a recent rally and urged them to bake cakes for campaigners [i.e., the candidates, who are vastly male]. His long-suffering wife Veronica, 20 years his junior, got her revenge last year by reprimanding him for lechery in an open letter to a left-leaning newspaper. He publicly apologized."
Exactly what type of leadership does someone with such an outlook offer Italy for the 21st century? Do we really want more of the same: the future turning to the past that is doomed to fail? Italy is an incredible society that deserves and needs to create a new national script; a switch from the 'national political theatre' of the past now grown very, very stale.
Two days after the Brown article, Deepa Babington's came out in Reuters, "Italian women fight to break political barriers." She quotes candidate Marianna Madia ("adopted" daughter of Berlusconi's Democratic Party rival and former mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni). Madia is "a 27-year old economist running for the rival Democratic Party in the parliamentary election": "Every now and then, I sometimes feel we in Italy live in pre-historic times."
The article cites the Inter-Parliamentary Union ranking Italia 67th in the world for the number of women elected to parliament. Italy can do better.
As so many consumer and exchange economies teeter on the brink, here's a fascinating index that could prove more useful to more people. Many of us are in the same time familiar with, yet put off by, words and terms like "GNP", "GDP", and "economic indicator." For over a decade a group called Redefining Progress has been working on what they call the "GPI" - the genuine progress indicator.
"... The GPI starts with the same personal consumption data that the GDP is based on, but then makes some crucial distinctions. It adjusts for factors such as income distribution, adds factors such as the value of household and volunteer work, and subtracts factors such as the costs of crime and pollution. Because the GDP and the GPI are both measured in monetary terms, they can be compared on the same scale. ..." - Redefining Progress
I'm guessing that New York politico turned radio host Chris Owens has just had his story of the week - of the year - handed to him for his new show Black Politics w/ Chris Owens. And Eliot Spitzer effectively may have just handed New York State's governorship to Lieutenant Gov. David Paterson. I saw Mr. Paterson at the DNC's Fall meeting in Virginia. Most of us who might be at all interested (in the current gov's self-inflicted wounds) are now hearing plenty of news on Mr. Spitzer's amazingly self-destructive (and maybe addictive) hiring of a... sex worker ... while on a visit to Washington, DC. And on Valentine's Eve no less. Media are reporting Spitzer was a regular customer of a prostitution ring whose scope is international. Some of our thoughts go to Silda Wall who happens to be Spitzer's wife. This stunning, sad -and illegal - fiasco has layers enough to rival Shakespeare. Sorry to say, in some ways it all feels like driving past a crash. Unlike an accident, in this case there seems little constructive that observers can do. Today New York Times is calling on Spitzer to step down. Just goes to show, when it comes to some types of 'guy behaviour', 2008 is not 1968; it's not even 1998.
I am sooo excited about this! Thanks and appreciation to France-based Comite Marche du 23 Mai 1998(and S. Flainville) on their workshop on Sunday, 24 February. It's in French, of course: "Comment j’ai retrouve mes parents qui ont vecu au temps de l’esclavage." "How I found my relatives who lived during slavery." The geo-historical focus is on Martinique (and perhaps also Guadeloupe?) I will post more details on Marian's Blog en francais but here are a few: It all takes place 2:30-5:30pm in the Salle Saint-Denys at 8, rue de la Boulangerie, 93200 Saint-Denis, near Paris. Workshop leader is Dr. Emmanuel GORDIEN, director of CM98's own genealogy center. There's a nominal €2 (that's euro) charge, and the closest Metro is Saint-Denis Basilique. Dr. Gordien recommends a couple of French-language resources: Claire Sibille's"Guide des sources de la traite négrière de l’esclavage et de leurs abolitions" and "Les noms de famille d’origine africaine de la population martiniquaise d’ascendance servile," by Guillaume Durand and Kinvi Logossah from Editions Harmattan. I look forward to hearing how it went. Big props to Suzy and CM98!
Came across an interesting article from nearly a year ago: author Yvonne Bynoe's Black America After Jim Crow: Still Feels Like Segregation, published on AlterNet. (They have good stuff and deserve your consideration of $upport.)
For decades I've been having "frank and candid" conversations, personal and public, with Black folks from around the world outside the USA, as well as with my folks here at home. I agree with much but not all of what Bynoe writes. I remember a surreal moment in the Kenyan government representative's speech at the U.S. 4th of July diplomatic event in Nairobi a few years ago. Johnnie Carson, a Black American, was ambassador. But I'll save this for another time.
"What has not occurred are frank and candid conversations between native Black Americans and immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean that aim to update the public face of "Black America." These dialogues would first need to acknowledge the unique cultures and histories of the various groups, while forging relationships based on our shared interests and challenges in this country as people of African descent." - writer Yvonne Bynoe