The violent crackdown everyone dreaded is on in Burma. International press are reporting one Japanese man is dead after being shot today by soldiers. This now brings Japan (also a Buddhist country) into the picture. The military controls Internet service within Myanmar and are blocking access to certain blogs, but word is getting out anyway. Several deaths have now been reported. Are the attacks on Buddhist monks, nuns and civilians the beginning of the end of Burma military rule? Where is India's voice? In a muted response China is now telling Burmese authorities to show "restraint". Thailand claims nothing unusual is going on. What about Europe, and Germany in particular? India and Germany both are said to have commercial ties to the Myanmar regime. U.S.-based Chronicle of Higher Edlinks to New Mandala academic group blog which has lots of info and in turn links to Burmese site Kachin News Groupin English and Burmese. There's also the link to Awzar Thi'sRule of Lords blog with compelling photosof what's now called the Saffron Revolution. Representatives of the people's movement say their non-violent protests are no fluke and the people will not give up.
It's August. This is a month to remember and commemorate Britain's end of its slave trade, from London to Guyana and the Caribbean and its "basin", and beyond. This also encompasses "local Washington, DC" since a sizeable number of Caribbean folk live and work in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area. More Caribbean and Caribbean Basin folk are scattered across Canada and various parts of Europe. August also marks national independence of Britain's post-slavery Caribbean colonies, more than a hundred years after chattel slavery ended. So we're checking Michael Burke's fascinating column, Granulated slavery, Saturday, 5 August, in the Jamaica Observer. Burke pulls together related issues: economic enslavement, jobs and their absence, 1970s' Roman Catholic liberation theology throughout the Americas (conveniently abandoned by some), the virus of today's artificially induced mass consumption as well as the local and global co-operative movement and its underused ability to put a dent in poverty. Thanks for the overview, Michael.
Let me draw your attention to blogdiva Liza Sabater's recently posted pro-Chris Owens' take on Sept 12th's key race for the successor to my former boss, U.S. Congressman Major Owens. Major, "the first professional librarian elected to Congress", is retiring after about 12 productive terms in Congress over 24 years. He was elected in 1982 in the district where in 1968 the late Hon. Shirley Chisolm became the first Black and Caribbean American woman elected to Congress. Today there are 4 candidates in this majority Black/Brown district. "Majority colored" as Liza calls Central Brooklyn's 11th Congressional District. The people are mostly English-speaking U.S. Black American, mostly English and Kreyol/Haitian-speaking Caribbean, and Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican who, by the way, are Caribbean. The candidates: Chris Owens, Carl Andrews, Yvette Clarke, and David Yassky. Why did I believe I'd heard ages ago that Yassky had pulled out of the race? Folks say he hopes to split the colored majority vote. If it's true that's a highly cynical strategy in a district like this for a candidate who happens to be a white, Jewish male. I really hope vote-splitting does not occur. Sabater elaborates on each candidate in her Daily Gotham blog. My view is that Chris Owens happens to be the most qualified, transparent and the most effective progressive in the race. Frankly, he knows more about how Congress works than do his three opponents, combined. He also happens to be a son of Major Owens, but don't make the mistake of thinking he's trying to take a "free ride". No. Chris Owens has his own merits that make him the candidate of choice to succeed his dad - and to provide important political continuity in Washington at a time when Democrats are coming back from behind. This year's election is a referendum on the future of Brooklyn and her colored majority population. Hopefully this future will be decided in favour of the people of Brooklyn, by the clear-thinking will of eligible 11th District Brooklyn voters who take the time and cast their respective ballots, Tuesday, 12 September 2006.
The Blogher 2006 conferenceis happening in about a week. Meanwhile over at Blogher.org I posted my concerns about the least visible of the "collateral civilians" caught in the bombing of Lebanon and Hezbollah. Look here under "Race & Ethnicity."
None of us knows exactly how today's Italy-Germany match will go. Some folks are pulling even harder for Italia ever since Achim Achilles' "why bother" comments were published in his infamous (and now removed) column on Der Spiegel Online (DSO). (The last link is to a BBC story about the column.) I say "why bother" because, well, whybother writing and publishing such nonsense?? From what I read, the column wasn't witty and definitely was not funny. I won't say Achilles' comments came from all Germans because obviously they did not. Not to mention, as others have pointed out elsewhere, the name Achim Achilles isn't exactly culturally German itself. At the same time it seems his remarks aren't as isolated as most of us would wish. It's interesting to consider and discuss how such aggressively stereotypical thinking fits into "problem-making" versus the efforts at "problem-solving" that are going on simultaneously today across the globe, including in Italia and Germany. In his June 28 post titled "Heil Spiegel" Italian humorist/comedian Beppe Grillo ("GREEL-lo") writes about the Der Spiegel episode via his blog. To Der Spiegel Online's credit, two days after Grillo's post someone called "Roberto Longo" added DSO's apology - in 3 languages - on Grillo's site as a response to the "Heil Speigel" entry.
This forces me to recall the Italian press reports of the incident two summers ago (2004) in an Italian hotel (Il Tritone in Abano Terme, Padova) where German tourists actually demanded the hotel management remove from her job a young woman on a 1-month student internship working Tritone Hotel's front desk. If you read Italian, see Costantino Muscau's 24 May 2004 article in Corriere della Sera: "E nera, non puo stare alla reception". Translation: She's Black, she can't be [work] at the reception [desk]. The 18-year-old student worker was African and, for some reason, this particular group of foreign (German) tourists organised to get her fired; not because of anything incorrect in her work but because of who she was. Later the story came out of how her parents settled in Italy years earlier, her father, Ekoli Mahnge Zulu, being a former IBF welterweight world boxing champion. Unfortunately the Tritone hotel's management did cave-in to this crazy, racist pressure (from a group of German tourists no less), which justly brought lots of coverage and an outcry in the Italian media. This led to the young woman (Marlene Zulu, Zairoise by birth) being offered and accepting another "stage" at the "more appropriate" Rossini Hotel, also in Italy, in Pesaro. Daily injustices like this anywhere in the world and including Europe, Germany, Italy and elsewhere, should have such courageous outcomes far more often.
Props to our Caribbean cousins/sisters/brothers for Caribbean American Heritage Month 2006. Jasmyn Cannick has a good link on her site where she writes about Oakland, California CongresswomanBarbara Lee's 2005 proclamation, with a list of a few US folks of (recent) Caribbean descent/origin, like California's Mervyn Dymally, "the first foreign born member of the United States Congress, Marcus Garvey, Sidney Poitier, Colin Powell, Cicely Tyson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Shirley Chisolm." The folks are even going to show us how to play cricket on the National Mall in DC. Do they plan to let women join in? More events and details at CaribbeanAmericanMonth.org site.
Thursday, 8 June 2006. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi no longer walks the earth and CNN has interviewed a 'less well-known' (to some of us) freelance journalist called Nir Rosen. Today Rosen became the first person I've heard in the mainstream media (MSM) to speak openly, and like he were making sense, about Iraq being in a state of civil war. Digest that. Most other media folk are still using that "sectarian violence"euphemism. This includes Wolf Blitzer who thankfully, unlike many of his CNN colleagues, I am not forced to endure or imagine discussing "Brangelina" with a straight face. Besides Nir Rosen has anyone in US mainstream media officially called the current state of Iraq a civil war? Rosen specifically says it's been a civil war since 2005. He is also author of a book I'd never heard of before today - In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq - briefly reviewed here. The book's subtitle seems appropriate on this day when some in "the West" are cheering and instant-replaying news of al-Zarqawi's death. May he, like all of us, have an opportunity to talk to G*d about who he was and the acts he committed in this life.
We're off to an outdoor concert of jazz - "Black classical music" (my term since my 1975 Penn State radio show). In the midst of what I witness and write about in this blog, each day I'm on my own search for 'what helps us' - me especially - to become more fully human. Among the people, thinkers, writers, etc. I admire, whose actions, utterances and writings have influenced me, is the late French writer - Teilhard de Chardin. I came across an archived articleat WIRED (Jennifer Cobb Kreisberg, June 1995) on de Chardin and development of a "Net-based" global consciousness and how even 51 years after his death in 1955 de Chardin's thoughts connect to and continue to develop with this consciousness that's making itself real, as we Black Americans might say.
Today is June 1st - both Madaraka Dayand Kenya Bloggers Day. Uaridi (Swahili for 'rose') has done a lively Madaraka Day post at her blog so I've linked it here. Unlike Uaridi I'd probably trade a Tuskers and nyama choma (barbecued or roast meat) for a glass of water (probably Keringet or something) or chilled vino bianco, with a nice green salad fresh from my Muthaiga garden (which I dearly miss). Madaraka Daytook place June 1st, 1963, 18 months before Kenya's full independence from Britain on 12 December 1964. In the early 60s I was a little Black American girl who had never yet been outside her home country, but I vividly remember collecting the set of luncheon placemats each with a nice map and description of an African nation that recently had re-gained its independence. Even as a kid thousands of miles away - to the west across Africa and the Atlantic - I understood vicariously what African independence meant. It made me feel hopeful and proud. I also still hope that soon Africa will remember and be proud of us.