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.
Since his accession to the French presidency, I seem to have lost track of the times when to hear Nicolas Sarkozy speak is to re-affirm that truth indeed is stranger than fiction. It's likely that for most of his listeners who were present on 26 July 2007, in an auditorium of Senegal's Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, this was another one of those days.
Nicolas Sarkozy's original discours in Dakar was in French, but as this event is so important, it was also important to share it as well in English. I'm sure there must be other language translations out there. We will look for them in order to post them. Now, a group of mostly African intellectuals has recently published a French-language response to Mr. Sarkozy. The edited volume is L'Afrique Repond a Sarkozy: Contre le discours de Dakar (Editions Philippe Rey, Paris, 2008) - "Africa Responds to [Nicolas] Sarkozy: Against the Dakar Discourse." Luckily for we Afrodescendants of the Americas (or "Negroes of the diaspora," as book editor Makhily Gassama quite oddly refers to us), the book includes a contribution by our Haitian writer-sister Kettly Mars. The following is an unofficial translation of Sarkozy's speech which is posted at the blog Dionysius Stoned. A thank you to DS, and certainly to the party or parties who made this original translation.
ADDRESS BY MR NICOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC, AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHEIKH ANTA DIOP, DAKAR, SENEGAL, ON 26 JULY 2007
Ladies and gentlemen
Allow me first of all, to thank the Senegalese Government and people for their warm welcome. Allow me to thank the University of Dakar that allows me for the first time to address myself to the elite of the youth of Africa in the capacity of President of the French Republic.
I have come to talk to you with the frankness and sincerity that one owes to friends that one appreciates and respects. I appreciate and respect Africa and the Africans.
Between Senegal and France history has woven ties of a friendship that no one can undo. This friendship is strong and sincere. It is for this reason that I wanted to address, from Dakar, the fraternal greeting of France to all of Africa...
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
Marian's Blog received a survey request from a PhD student at Stony Brook University in New York State. Chris Weber is conducting a survey on "people's reactions to the presidential candidates in the upcoming election." Logically this would be aimed at U.S. voters. I agreed to pass this along, and completed the survey myself. We won't be taking comments on this post.
"The purpose of this survey is to examine how people think and feel about the political issues, parties, and candidates in the upcoming election. In the survey, you will be asked a series of questions about two political candidates, John McCain and Hillary Clinton. We are very interested in how individuals [who] find information on the web think about politics, and your participation would be greatly appreciated. In total, the survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. The survey is completely anonymous and you can skip any questions you do not wish to answer. Click here to take the survey http://www.ic.sunysb.edu/stu/crweber/TAKESURVEY/election_2008.htm. Contact Chris ( crweber AT notes.cc.sunysb.edu) at Stony Brook University with any questions or concerns. Thanks for your help!" ***
It's Black History Month, folks. Today, renegade though it may be to some, my focus is on the peculiarities I'm observing in this 2008 U.S. presidential election season. I'll begin with a fact that may not be obvious to some observers, and the farther one is from the U.S. and our history the less obvious this fact will be. Let's call it Fact 1:
Come November, U.S. voters, after well over two centuries, still will not elect to the presidency a Black person who is the descendant of "we the people" who were enslaved not long ago in the U.S.A. These descendants are the Black American people, the group of Blacks whom Kenyan historian Ali Mazrui somehow has come to deem "undefinable" or "unmentionable", or who somehow should not be singled out n view of our long historical existence, lest in some way we might be seen as an "elite." That is his term, not mine. The other side of this issue is the current possibilitiy of electing someone to become the first Black president of a country - in this case the United States - but a person who in fact does not come from the indigenous Black population of said country. We'll call this Fact 2. Or as Mr. Mazrui informed all of us during the January symposium which was supposed to be about Blacks and abolition of the U.S. slave trade, the United States may beat Kenya by electing the first "Luo" president. Apparently Luois the name of the Kenyan ethnic group Barack Obama's late father belonged to. Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga is a Luo also, hence the inside joke, though not to Americans in general or to Black Americans in particular. ...
Perhaps you already know the name A. Leon Higginbotham, or maybe you don't. Until his death he served as a U.S. federal judge. Earlier he was a friend and college classmate of my father and his siblings. Not only did Judge Higginbotham go on to be an attorney and federal judge, he became the twentieth century's chief scholar of the foundations of the position of Black Americans in U.S. law. My family had previously shared with me their story about Purdue. Years later I discovered that Judge Higginbotham had recounted it elsewhere again. My father was sixteen when he began studying engineering at Purdue. While she did her studies at Purdue, my aunt lived in the town with a local Black family. My uncle and my father, native sons of Indiana, were among eleven Black male students whose Purdue ordeal Higginbotham described. I found it on the Web and want to share it here. Tuesday night is the televised Congressional Black Caucus Foundation/CNN Democratic candidates' debate from Charleston, SC. Found a linkto a Black South Carolina timeline that begins with the 1525 arrival of at least one African along with a group of Spanish settlers.
I got an email today with a very interesting "letter" (article) from Michael Moore in which he's definitely leaning toward John Edwards. Moore's article is entitled,"Who Do We Vote For This Time Around? A Letter from Michael Moore." He writes:
"... And then there's John Edwards. It's hard to get past the hair, isn't it? But once you do -- and recently I have chosen to try -- you find a man who is out to take on the wealthy and powerful who have made life so miserable for so many.
A candidate who says things like this: "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy." Whoa. We haven't heard anyone talk like that in a while, at least not anyone who is near the top of the polls. I suspect this is why Edwards is doing so well in Iowa, even though he has nowhere near the stash of cash the other two have. ...
Then he writes:
"... For months I've been wanting to ask the question, "Where are you, Al Gore?"
And then Moore refers to the earlier Edwards quote.
"... On second thought, would you [Gore] even be willing to utter the words, "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy"?"'Cause the candidate who understands that, and who sees it as the root of all evil -- including the root of global warming -- is the President who may lead us to a place of sanity, justice and peace. ..."
Well, shut my mouth. We'll have to wait and see which way Michael goes next.
lncreasingly more frequently I think of the late, great American -and Black American - filmmaker, Oscar Micheaux. For me, Mr. Micheaux's prodigiousness and genius remain as freshly astounding as his obscurity still largely enforced by U.S. society.
Actress Hazel Diaz and three fawning male co-stars, in Micheaux's 1938 film, Swing! Britannica.com
For some strange reason we just don't seem to be hearing as much regular, in-depth news and information as we should about post-Katrina issues facing New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and the USA. So, we suggest you check the Summer 2006 online table of contents of, and subscribe to, the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy. From Gulf Coast women's voices and the right of return of New Orleanians internally displaced (these are the two human rights' terms) across the U.S., and restoring regional health care infrastructure. This is all about salvaging and creating grassroots democracy (what other kind is there?) in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. And, really, in the USA. Thank you for showing that you care.