Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Smalltown Boy

"Smalltown Boy" is a song by Bronski Beat that was released in 1984. It was a commercial success and became a gay anthem as it addressed homophobia, bullying and loneliness (via).
"Accompanied by one of the most literal videos ever filmed, ‘Smalltown Boy’ was the first sortie by the openly gay trio, Bronski Beat, against another aspect of Thatcher’s Britain (and, indeed, of life in Britain in general): homophobia. Written by Bronski Beat, who themselves had ‘run away’ and were to meet in Brixton and form the band in 1983. The sense of the lyrics directly being drawn from personal experience made this a poignant commentary on growing up gay in the provinces." BBC

"‘Smalltown Boy’ was a distinctive step in the right direction, with its lyrics about a young man forced to abandon his home town for fear of this disapproval. Not only did it highlight the plight and shared experiences of hundreds of thousands of gay people, but it also provoked serious debate over these issues." BBC

Jimmy Somerville sings "Smalltown Boy", Rak Studios, St Johns Wood, London, May 2014:

"At a swimming pool, his friends (played by band members Larry Steinbachek and Steve Bronski) dare him to approach a young man that he is attracted to, for which he is later attacked in an alley by a homophobic gang led by the man he had approached at the swimming pool. A police officer brings him back to his home. It is implied that the boy's parents learn of his homosexuality for the first time through this incident and are shocked, but only the father seems unsupportive. The boy then catches a train to London, on which he is reunited with his friends." (via)

::: The original clip from 1984: LISTEN/WATCH

Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry

You leave in the morning with everything you own in a little black case
Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a sad and lonely face

Mother will never understand why you had to leave
But the answers you seek will never be found at home
The love that you need will never be found at home

Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away

Pushed around and kicked around, always a lonely boy
You were the one that they'd talk about around town as they put you down

And as hard as they would try they'd hurt to make you cry
But you never cried to them, just to your soul
No, you never cried to them, just to your soul

Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away (crying to your soul)
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away (crying to your soul)
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away (crying to your soul)
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away

Cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry

Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry
Cry, boy, cry, boy, cry

You leave in the morning with everything you own in a little black case
Alone on a platform, the wind and the rain on a sad and lonely face

Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away

Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away
Run away, turn away, run away, turn away, run away

written by Jimmy Somerville, Larry Steinbachek, Steve Bronski

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- More: Music Video Closet
- photographs of Jimmy Somerville via and via

Monday, 5 December 2016

Matteo, Silvio & Diversity

The "President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic" (i.e. Prime Minister) is a political leader of Italy since 1861. In the past six years, Italy has had four prime ministers (via). After the referendum defeat last Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi - "the Justin Trudeau of Italy" as The Washington Post once called him (via) - declared he would resign.

In 2011, Sun King Berlusconi said, gay couples would never be allowed to marry in Italy or have adoption rights (via). In 2016 - thirty years after lawmakers first proposed the legal recognition of civil unions in Italy -, the Italian Government gave final approval to the law recognising civil unions of same-sex couples; the bill was supported by Matteo Renzi (via). Before Renzi, Italy was "the only major Western European country with no civil partnerships or gay marriage" (via). Renzi met LGBT civil rights activist and Mayor of a small town Alessia Ballini when he was the Mayor of Florence. She inspired him to support the Civil Unions Bill which was passed five years after her death (via).
"The two soon grew close, and the traditionally Catholic Renzi - a man opposed to civil unions - and the lesbian civil rights campaigner found they shared more similarities than differences. Ballini introduced Renzi to her partner, Teresa Vieri, and it was through his experience of this relationship that Renzi learned the powerful lesson that love is love." (LOTL)
“In these crucial hours I keep close to my heart the thought and memory of Alessia. And that’s enough for me, because laws are made for people, not for ideologies. For those who love, not for those who make proclamations.”
Matteo Renzi

“I have a gruelling work schedule and if I happen to look pretty girls in the face now and then, well then, it’s better to be a fan of pretty women than to be gay.”
Silvio Berlusconi

When Renzi unveiled his cabinet in 2014 (at that time Berlusconi was about to start serving a suspended sentence, i.e. working four hours a week in a nursing home with Alzheimer's patients; via), "one of its most striking aspects was that, for the first time, it was to be split equally between women and men" (via). Renzi's step was a huge one in a country that has never had a female prime minister or head of state, in a country where female politicians are still judged by their looks and outfit (via). In 2008, "gender-equality challenged" Berlusconi made the following comment concerning the Spanish Prime Minister's decision to have a cabinet with more women than men (via):
"[He] has formed a government that is too pink," reads one. "That's something we cannot do... because there is a prevalence of men in politics and it isn't easy to find women who are qualified for government. Now he's asked for it. He'll have problems leading them." The other imagines "the merrie Lawes by them newly Enacted, To live in more Ease, Pompe, Pride, and wantonnesse: but especially that they might have superiority and domineere over their husbands [and] cure any old or new Cuckolds...".
Silvio Berlusconi
To be fair, Berlusconi had also chosen women for the Parliament: a Miss Italy contestant, a former contestant of the Italian "Big Brother", an actress, a soap opera star, and a topless model (via) ... all of them supporting the "harem culture" message he has been sending with showgirls on his TV channels for decades (via).
"(...) while other European lands actively promote gender equality as a builder of national prosperity, Berlusconi has led the charge in the opposite direction, effectively stifling women by creating a world in which they are seen first and foremost as sex objects instead of professional equals." Newsweek
“It is clear to everyone that a mother cannot devote herself to a job (...)"
Silvio Berlusconi

"Let's hope it's a girl."
Matteo Renzi before the Clinton-vs.-Trump election

"I said to a girl to look for a wealthy boyfriend. This suggestion is not unrealistic."
Silvio Berlusconi

"Women are lining up to marry me. Legend has it, I know how to do it."
Silvio Berlusconi

"When asked if they would like to have sex with me, 30% of women said, 'Yes', while the other 70% replied, 'What, again?'"
Silvio Berlusconi

"I never understood where the satisfaction is when you're missing the pleasure of conquest." 
Silvio Berlusconi denying that he would pay sex workers

Women are "God's most beautiful gift to men."
Silvio Berlusconi

In order to prevent rape, "we would need as many soldiers as there are beautiful Italian women."
Silvio Berlusconi

"Italy is now a great country to invest in... Today we have fewer communists and those who are still there deny having been one. Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries... superb girls."
Silvio Berlusconi
(In 2015, one of his "superb" secretaries was jailed for three years; via)

"Angela Merkel is an un****able fat ****."
Silvio Berlusconi

"An Aids patient asks his doctor whether the sand treatment prescribed him will do any good. 'No', the doctor replies, 'but you will get accustomed to living under the earth'."
Silvio Berlusconi

"We must be aware of the superiority of our civilisation, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and - in contrast with Islamic countries - respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance..."
Silvio Berlusconi

"The West will continue to conquer peoples, even if it means a confrontation with another civilization, Islam, firmly entrenched where it was 1,400 years ago."
Silvio Berlusconi

"(...) in the China of Mao, they did not eat children, but had them boiled to fertilise the fields."
Silvio Berlusconi

"Ah, Barack Obama. You won't believe it, but the two of them sunbathe together, because the wife is also tanned."
Silvio Berlusconi

"(...) the man who has invested in hope over cynicism, who has raised a generation to try (Yes, we can).” Obama will go but "stay in history and the hearts of many of us."
Matteo Renzi on Barack Obama

Finally, two of my favourite quotes:

"I don't need to go into office for the power. I have houses all over the world, stupendous boats... beautiful airplanes, a beautiful wife, a beautiful family... I am making a sacrifice."
Silvio Berlusconi

"I am the Jesus Christ of politics. I am a patient victim, I put up with everyone, I sacrifice myself for everyone."
Silvio Berlusconi

In an interview, Matteo Renzi's wife Agnese Renzi openly said how much she had learned from her little niece Maria who had taught her "the true meaning of love". Maria has Down Syndrome and was adopted by Matteo Renzi's sister Matilde Renzi (via).

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- photographs (Vanity Fair) via and via and via and via and via
- List of Prime Ministers of Italy by time in office: LINK

Friday, 2 December 2016

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

"Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century."
Anti-Slavery International

"The focus of this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict."
United Nations

According to the International Labour Organisation, about 21 million men, women and children are in a form of slavery. These contemporary forms of slavery comprise forcing women into prostitution, forcing girls into marriage with older men and forcing children and adults to work for nothing (via). The use of children in armed conflicts is a lucrative contemporary manifestation of slavery. Recruiting children for participation in armed conflict or for sexual exploitation falls under the ambit of "trafficking in persons." Child soldiering interferes with a child's "fundamental right to education, health, and development" and is one of the worst forms of child labour. As if combats were not traumatic enough, the exploitation of child soldiers is usually accompanied by torture, sexual violence, sexual exploitation and sadistic treatment that desensitizes children to both the sight and commission of atrocities ... which finally may turn them into "killing machines" (Tiefenbrun, 2007). The reintegration of the children who had been subject to abuse in this highly pathological environment into civilian life is complex and difficult (via), but possible. From 2008 to 2009, Unicef helped to reintegrate more than 24.000 former child soldiers (via). In some countries, almost a third of the child soldiers are girls who additionally encounter forced pregnancy.
"Child soldiers serve within militaries and armed groups in which complete cooperation and obedience is demanded, in contexts where moral and legal safeguards against their abuse may have broken down. In this context sexual violence becomes sexual exploitation."
"Child soldiers are brainwashed thoroughly and brutally until their ethics and moral values become so distorted that they believe doing evil is good."
Child soldiering is a widespread phenomenon. During the civil war in Sierra Leone, for instance, about 25.000 children - some as young as six - were abducted and fored to join armed groups (Tiefenbrun, 2007). From 2009 to 2012, 18.000 children were forced to join guerrilla groups and paramilitaries in Colombia. While extreme poverty is the common denominator, indigenous Colombians are particularly vulnerable (via). Of the 31 countries where there were armed conflicts in 1998, 87% used child soldiers (via). It is estimated that there are currently 300.000 children in armed groups around the world. Many of them are child soldiers, others are "Children Associated with Armed Forces and Groups" who are used as cooks, spies, porters or "wives" for adult fighters (via).

- Tiefenbrun, S. (2007). Child Soldiers, Slavery and the Trafficking of Children. Fordham International Law Journal, 31(2), 413-486.
- photographs (first one by Marcus Bleasdale) via and via

Monday, 28 November 2016

Narrative images: Martin Luther King, Jr. Is Arrested For Loitering (Montgomery, 1958)

"The strange thing is that in Moore's photograph it is not Martin or Coretta who looks afraid. It's the policemen who appear flustered and scared. The photo is superficially silent. But you can still see how blurry with fear they are of his power and presence, quivering before his radical subjectivity in that space."
Steven Church, 2015

On 3rd of September 1958, Martin Luther King, Jr. accompanied his closest friend, minister and civil rights activist Ralph David Abernathy, Sr. (1926-1990) to the Montgomery courthouse for the hearing of a case. King asked if he could speak with Abernathy's lawyer when he was told: "Boy, if you don't get the hell away from here, you will need a lawyer yourself." Two policemen rushed in, twisted King's arm behind his back, dragged him from the courthouse to the police station and put him into a cell. Ten minutes later, - as soon as they discovered who he was and learned that a news photographer had taken pictures of the arm-twisting arrest - officers hurried to his cell to release him. They also filed a charge against him for loitering which meant that King would pay a fine and the matter would be dropped. At his trial a few days later, he was found guilty of disobeying the police and was ordered to pay $14 if he did not want to serve 14 days in prison. "Your honor, I could not in all good conscience pay a fine for an act that I did not commit and above all for the brutal treatment I did not deserve." King chose prison. His choice became national news and a city commissioner (Police Commissioner Sellers) quickly paid the $14 fine (Jakoubek, 2005; Darby, 2005). Versions differ and according to a different source, King spent fourteen days in prison (Church, 2015).
Your Honor, you have no doubt rendered a decision which you believe to be just and right. Yet, I must reiterate that I am innocent. I was simply attempting to enter the court hearing of a beloved friend, and at no point was I loitering. I have been the victim of police brutality for no reason. I was snatched from the steps of the courthouse, pushed through the street while my arms were twisted, choked and even kicked. I spite of this, I hold no animosity or bitterness in my heart toward the arresting officers. I have compassion for them as brothers, and as fellow human beings made in the image of God. (...)
Martin Luther King, Jr., 5 September 1958 (cited in Carson, 2000)
Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested for loitering ... or for being black. In fact, "vagrancy laws made it a crime to be a certain type of person" (via) and it was the Civil Rights Movement that largely brought their demise (via).
"Vagrancy law became especially visible and toxic when law enforcement wielded it against the civil rights movement in the South. Arrests of Martin Luther King Jr. for vagrancy in Selma, Alabama, and Louisville, Kentucky, put the issue on the civil rights radar." Risa L. Goluboff
"Loitering laws-which make it illegal in certain public venues to stand in one spot doing nothing-are a lot like vagrancy laws in that they prohibit behavior that many of us engage in and therefore encourage discretionary (and discriminatory) action on the part of law enforcement." Kitty Calavita, 2016
"It is also the vague undefined nature of loitering combined with the impossibility of truly knowing or measuring subjective intent that has allowed anti-loitering laws and ordinanced to be used as a weapon against civil disobedience. Martin Luther King was arrested because anti-loitering laws on the books in Montgomery allowed the police, regardless of the facts of that day, to define King's presence, to shape his intent into something criminal, something they could use to control him. He was just attending a public trial. But anti-loitering laws allowed the police to arrest him for being black in a white space." Steven Church, 2015
The photograph was taken by US photojournalist Charles Moore (1931-2010), one of the first photographers to document the rise of Martin Luther King. Moore covered the civil rights era and took photographs of the Birmingham riots, of protesters being tear-gassed in Selma... His photographs brought worldwide attention to the civil rights struggle and "helped to spur passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964" (via).

"In Charles Moore's iconic black-and-white photograph, Coretta looks on stoically, lips parted, hands clasped in front, as her husband Martin Luther King has his right arm bent behind his back by a police officer in a tall hat. Someone unseen, outside the frame, places a hand on Coretta's left arm, as if to comfort or contain her. Martin pitches forward over a counter, leaning to his right, his left hand splayed out for support on the polished surface. He wears a light-colored suit and tie, a panama hat with a black band. The force of the offcer's grip has nearly yanked the jacket off his right shoulder. The officer's left hand pushes against Martin's left side, bunching up his jacket, shoving him forward, bending him over the counter. Another officer stands behind Martin's right shoulder, but you can see only the top of his hat and his right arm resting casually on the counter. A hatless white officer stands behind the counter, and our perspective peers over his right shoulder into Martin's face. He doesn't look pained. Resigned perhaps, sadly familiar with this sort of treatment. The man behind the counter seems to be reaching out toward Martin with his left hand to take something or give something (a piece of paper perhaps) as his right arm blurs at the bottom edge of the frame. Martin, his eyes pulled all the way to the right is either looking at the man behind the counter or at someone else we can't see." Steven Church, 2015

The Chicago Tribune, 4 September 1958 (via):

Montogomery, Ala., Sept. 3
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a Negro minister widely known for his fight against segregation, was hustled into a cell Wednesday on a charge of loitering outside the city hall.
He was released from custody after about 15 minutes and allowed to sign a $100 bond. A hearing was et for Friday in City court. The maximum penalty for loitering is $100 fine and six months jail. King, who led the Negro boycott of segregated city buses in Montgomery two years ago, was arrested by two patrolmen outside the courtroom where another Negro integration leader, the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, was accusing a Negro attacking him.
  Refused to Move
The arresting officers said King refused to move when they ordered him and a crowd of other Negroes to get away from the door leading from the street into the courtroom at City hall.
Meanwhile, the Negro accused of attacking Abernathy with a hatchet was bound over to the Grand Jury under $300 bond on a charge of assault with intent to murder. He was booked as Edward Davis of Montogomery.
  Minister Denies Misconduct
Abernathy told police that Davis entered the church office and accused the minister of "carrying on an affair" with Davis' wife. Abernathy denied having anything to do with the man's wife.
After his release Wednesday, King accused arresting officers of brutality. He said they "tried to break my arm, they grabbed my collar and choked me, and when they got me to the cell, they kicked me in."
Police Commissioner Clyde Sellers denied the charge of brutality. He said King was "treated as anyone else would be and arrested as anyone else would be."

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- Calavita, K. (2016) Invitation to Law & Society. An Introduction to the Study of Real Law. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press
- Carson, C. (2000). The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Volume IV, Symbol of the Movement, January 1957-December 1958. Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: University of California Press
- Church, S. (2015). Of Idleness. In: After Montaigne. Contemporary essayinsts cover the essays. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 91-
- Darby, J. (2005). Martin Luther King Jr. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications
- Jakoubek, R. E. (2005). Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Leader. New York: Chelsea House
- photographs via and via and via

Friday, 25 November 2016

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

"Violence against women takes many forms – physical, sexual, psychological and economic. These forms of violence are interrelated and affect women from before birth to old age. Some types of violence, such as trafficking, cross national boundaries."
United Nations

"Violence against women - particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence - are major public health problems and violations of women's human rights.
Recent global prevalence figures indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.
Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. Violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health, and may increase vulnerability to HIV.
Factors associated with increased risk of perpetration of violence include low education, child maltreatment or exposure to violence in the family, harmful use of alcohol, attitudes accepting of violence and gender inequality.
Factors associated with increased risk of experiencing intimate partner and sexual violence include low education, exposure to violence between parents, abuse during childhood, attitudes accepting violence and gender inequality. (...)
Situations of conflict, post conflict and displacement may exacerbate existing violence, such as by intimate partners, and present additional forms of violence against women."
World Health Organization

"An estimated 133 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation/cutting in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the harmful practice is most common.
Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children, 250 million of whom were married before the age of 15. Girls who marry before the age of 18 are less likely to complete their education and more likely to experience domestic violence and complications in childbirth."
United Nations

"In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, 40 to 70 per cent of female murder victims were killed by their partners, according to the World Health Organization.
In Colombia, one woman is reportedly killed by her partner or former partner every six days."
United Nations

"(B)etween 15% of women in Japan and 71% of women in Ethiopia reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime."
World Health Organization

"The costs and consequence of violence against women last for generations."
United Nations

"The social and economic costs of intimate partner and sexual violence are enormous and have ripple effects throughout society. Women may suffer isolation, inability to work, loss of wages, lack of participation in regular activities and limited ability to care for themselves and their children."
World Health Organization

"The cost of intimate partner violence in the United States alone exceeds $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion is for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
A 2004 study in the United Kingdom estimated the total direct and indirect costs of domestic violence, including pain and suffering, to be £23 billion per year or £440 per person."
United Nations

::: Luca Lavarone's clip "Slap her": WATCH

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image via

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Old Friends

Amazon's short clip - launched ahead of Black Friday and Christmas - tells the story of a Christian priest and a Muslim imam. According to Amazon, its new advert is about "selflessness and thinking of other people". It has a clear and beautiful message: inter-faith friendship in these extremely divisive times (via).

"Our casting reflects this: the gentleman playing the vicar is a practising vicar in London, the gentleman playing the imam is a devout Muslim and the principal of a Muslim school. We used an actual church and mosque for our scenes within the places of worship."
A spokesman for Amazon

"Love this TV commercial for Amazon Prime. Very proud of our ad team."
Jeff Bezos ( CEO)

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sharon Jones

"Until the '90s, major labels were looking for a certain look. This Sony guy told me I was 'too black, too fat, too short, and too old.' Told me to go and bleach my skin. Told me to step in the background and just stay back. I had the voice, but I didn't have the looks." 
Sharon Jones

"I wasn't what they was looking for. They just looked at me and they didn't like what they saw: a short, black woman."
Sharon Jones

"Sharon Jones has battled racism, record companies and cancer."
The New York Times

Sharon Lafaye Jones - the "Female James Brown" - was born in Augusta, Georgia on 4th of May 1956. Due to segregation laws, her mother had to deliver her in the hospital's storage closet (via). Years later, when she visited her hometown North Augusta, South Carolina (where she spent the first years), she pointed out "a shop with an owner who used to sell black kids rotten candy, and also taught his parrot to greet customer with racial slurs" (via).
Jones was a singer for much of her life but released her first album when she was 40 and started getting serious attention rather later in her life. She was told to be "too short, too fat, too black and too old" but became "an unstoppable frontwoman" (via). Sharon Jones passed away on 18th of November 2016 (via).

"I chose not to put a wig on. The reason why I chose to come out with the cancer thing is because there's somebody out there who can see that all sickness isn't unto death. That it's something you can't change at that point in time, so you just got to go with it. Don't be ashamed. Don't be ashamed of looking at yourself."
Sharon Jones

"In Rikers, you had the Italians over here, the Spanish over here, the Blacks here, then there would be your Christians here and your Muslim brotherhood here. It's just like the outside, but in very closed quarters where you have to get along or else."
Sharon Jones (who used to work as a prison guard to support herself)

"A lot of people call me gay because they don't see me with anyone."
Sharon Jones

YouTube Selection (Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings)

- I Learned the Hard Way: LISTEN/WATCH
- The Game Gets Old: LISTEN/WATCH
- If you Call: LISTEN/WATCH
- 100 Days, 100 Nights: LISTEN/WATCH
- Stranger to My Happiness: LISTEN/WATCH
- Live at the Olympia (Wow!): LISTEN/WATCH

Photographs via and via and via and via and via

Friday, 18 November 2016

Quoting Gordon Parks

"I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera." 
Gordon Parks

"I suffered first as a child from discrimination, poverty ... so I think it was a natural follow from that that I should use my camera to speak for people who are unable to speak for themselves."
Gordon Parks

"And now, I feel at 85, I really feel that I'm just ready to start."
Gordon Parks

"I suffered evils, but without allowing them to rob me of the freedom to expand."
Gordon Parks

"I was up in New York state someplace and I went to a hotel, bitterly cold, twenty below zero or something like that. The guy refused me a room, just wouldn't talk with me and a young white boy came in with a mackinaw on and a guitar in his arm. He was standing behind me so the guy says, "Well, what do you want?" and he says, "Well, I'm after this man." And the hotel man said, "Well, we don't allow Negroes or Jews in this hotel, the management doesn't." And the other boys says, "Oh, if it's not good enough for him, it's not good enough for me." And he turned and walked back out in the cold. Well, he never stopped to apologize to me for this man, for his race or anything of this sort. It was the only hotel in town and I figured he must have gone somewhere but I thought the act was something I could never forget and I think I appreciated it even more because he didn't stop to talk. He showed me he believed in what he . . . he didn't want to quarrel about it and off he went back into the cold and that was something that you don't forget, a thing like this. I often would like to have known who this guy was. A lot of people say that they thought maybe it was Pete Seeger, but I didn't know him but he was tall and he had a guitar under his arm. Anyhow, I just don't want to know who he was; to me he's better unknown. You know?"
Gordon Parks

"Washington, D.C. in 1942 was not the easiest place in the world for a Negro to get along."
Gordon Parks

"Having just come from Minnesota and Chicago, especially Minnesota, things aren't segregated in any sense and very rarely in Chicago, in places at least where I could afford to go, you see. But suddenly you were down to the level of the drugstores on the corner; I used to take my son for a hotdog or malted milk and suddenly they're saying, "We don't serve Negroes," "niggers" in some sections and "You can't go to a picture show." Or "No use stopping, for we can't sell you a coat." Not refusing but not selling me one; circumventing the whole thing, you see? And Roy more or less expected all this, because he could see that I was green as a pea when I came to Washington and not too involved in all this as I might have been, in humanity. So he said, "Go out and see these things, the people, eat here, go to a theatre, go to the department store and buy yourself a coat. You need a coat." And I came back roaring mad and I wanted my camera and he said, "For what?" and I said I wanted to expose some of this corruption down here, this discrimination. And he says, "How you gonna do it?" "Well, with my camera." So he says, "Well, you sit down and write me a little paper on how you intend to do this," and I said, "Fine." I sat down, wrote several papers, brought them in. He kept after me until he got me down to one simple little project. That was my first lesson in how to approach a subject, that you didn't have to go blaring in with all horns blasting away, but I did a picture there that he often laughed at because of, I suppose, of what I thought was the shock appeal of it."
Gordon Parks

"I think maybe the rural influence in my life helped me in a sense, of knowing how to get close to people and talk to them and get my work done. That might have helped some. I think Roy stirred the interest in me to try and get to know people and get to know all kinds of people better and investigate their ills and their prejudices and their goods and their evil. It was just like a research into the mind of the one you met and in that way I'm sure you felt that you'd grow in a sense and that sometime would be doing some sort of service by recording as much of it as you could with a camera. I don't know that I was any better equipped. I probably . . . in some instances I was, more than probably the white photographers because of an emotional something that probably I was closer to or akin to which has certainly been in my favor since. Some of those Negro stories that I've done for Life and Standard Oil and other places have dealt with poverty, dealt with the emotional aspect of everyday living, because my own life was packed, early life, was packed with so much of it."
Gordon Parks

"I don't say that, you know, I was any more sensitive than the rest of the photographers on the FSA, but I certainly had other areas of my own personal problems in rejection and discrimination than any of them did, because I was a Negro and Roy I think taught me to use that disadvantage in an intelligent way instead of striking back with violence any longer, and so I put it into the camera. Meanwhile, I suppose meeting all these people and taught me a lot about human beings that I didn't know, inasmuch as when I came to Washington, I practically hated every white face that I saw because of what happened to me. But as I . . . as he showed me around and exposed me to more and more people, I came to realize that, for really the first time in my life, that we must accept people as individuals and it was a great lesson Roy taught me. He charged me with bitterness at first, showed me both sides of the coin, and then let me take my own choice you know and hoping I'm sure that he had over-exposed me to the best part of it. And felt, I suppose, that if I didn't work out all right then he'd done as much as he could have done toward . . . . I think I was sort of a noble experiment for Roy."
Gordon Parks

"I picked up a camera because it was my choice of weapons against what I hated most about the universe: racism, intolerance, poverty. I could have just as easily picked up a knife or a gun, like many of my childhood friends did... most of whom were murdered or put in prison... but I chose not to go that way. I felt that I could somehow subdue these evils by doing something beautiful that people recognize me by, and thus make a whole different life for myself, which has proved to be so."
Gordon Parks

"The camera could be a very powerful instrument against discrimination, against poverty, against racism."
Gordon Parks

(...) and certainly it wasn't popular for any magazine including Life or anyone else to hire a Negro in those days and I never was given Negro assignments as such. I was given regular assignments like everyone else and I think everyone respected this training and background."
Gordon Parks

"But I was very disappointed that I didn't get a chance to go overseas with that group, might not have gotten back but I wanted very much to go because there's not much of a record of the exploits of the first Negro fighter group."
Gordon Parks

"So I went to Chicago in 1940, I think, '41, and the photographs that I made there, aside from fashion, were things that I was trying to express in a social conscious way. I'd become sort of involved in things that were happening to people. No matter what color they be, whether they be Indians, or Negroes, the poor white person or anyone who was I thought more or less getting a bad shake."
Gordon Parks

"I've been asked if I think there will ever come a time when all people come together. I would like to think there will. All we can do is hope and dream and work toward that end. And that's what I've tried to do all my life."
Gordon Parks

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photographs via and via

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Dear Mr. Spock,... (1968)

Dear Mr. Spock,
I am not very good at writing letters so I will make this short. I know that you are half Vulcan and half human and you have suffered because of this. My mother is Negro and my father is white and I am told this makes me a half-breed. In some ways I am persecuted even more than the Negro. The Negroes don't like me because I don't look like them. The white kids don't like me because I don't exactly look like one of them either. I guess I'll never have any friends.
F. C.
Los Angeles, Calif.

Leonard Nimoy's reply:

As you may know, only Spock's mother was human. His father was Vulcan. Spock grew up among Vulcan children and, because he was different, he had to face the problem of not being accepted. This is because people, especially young people it seems, and Vulcans, too, tend to form into groups, kind of like wolf packs. They often demand that you be just like them or you will  not be accepted. And the Vulcans were no different than humans are when it comes to prejudice.
Most of the Vulcan kids didn't like Spock because he was half human. So they wouldn't include him in all the things they did. He was very lonely and no one understood him. and Spock was heartbroken because he wasn't popular. But it was only the need for popularity that was ruining his happiness. The question was: which was more important, being 'popular' with the pack who might turn against him at any minute or being true to himself?
It takes a great deal of courage to turn your back on popularity and to go out on your own. Although inside you're not really like the members of the pack, it's still frightening to decide to leave them, because as long as you're popular, you at least have someone to hang around with. But if you do leave, then you may end up alone.
Now, there's a little voice inside each of us that tells us when we're not being true to ourselves. We should listen to this voice. Often we try to talk ourselves into believing our actions are good-'it's ok to pick on that person' we say because it may make us popular for awhile with the pack.
But usually there is no good reason for picking on anyone. He's only bullied or turned away because of his background, because of the way he looks or talks or thinks. It's always only because he's different - not worth less personally than anyone else.
Spock learned he could save himself from letting prejudice get him down. He could do this by really understanding himself and knowing his own value as a person. He found he was equal to anyone who might try to put him down-equal in his own unique way.
You can do this too, if you realize the difference between popularity and true greatness. It has been said 'popularity' is merely the crumbs of greatness.
When you think of people who are truly great and who have improved the world, you can see that they are people who have realized they didn't need popularity because they knew they had something special to offer the world, no matter how small that offering seemed. And they offered it and it was accepted with peace and love. It's all in having the patience to find out what you yourself have to offer the world that's really uniquely yours.
So-the answer to the whole problem, the answer that Spock found when he had to make his big decision, in in overcoming the need to be popular. It's in choosing your own personal goal and going after it and forgetting what the others are saying. If you do this, then the ones who accept people for the right reasons-for their true worth-will find you and like you.
So Spock said to himself: 'OK, I'm not Vulcan, so the Vulcans don't want me. My blood isn't pure red Earth blood. It's green. And my ears-well, it's obvious I'm not pure human. So they won't want me either. I must do for myself and not worry about what others think of me who don't really know me.
Spock decided he would live up to his own personal value and uniqueness. he'd do whatever made him feel best about himself. He decided to listen to that little voice inside him and not to the people around him.
He replaced the idea of wanting to be liked with the idea of becoming accomplished. Instead of being interested in being popular, he became interested in being intelligent. And isntead of wanting to be powerful, he became intersted in being useful.
He said to himself: 'Not everyone will like me. But there will be those who will accept me just for what I am. I will develop myself to such a point of excellence, intelligence and brilliance that I can see through any problem and deal with any crisis. I will become such a master of my own abilities and career that there will be a place for me. People of all races will need me and not be able to do without me. And that's just what he did. And when I see him standing there on the bridge of the Enterprise, facing danger and life-and-death problems so cooly and with so much intelligence, I'm sure he made the right decision.

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Related postings:

- Leonard Nimoy
The Conscience of Star Trek
- Leonard Nimoy on what he would say upon being the first man to set foot on the moon
- Spock, the Outsider
- Dear Mr. Spock,... (1968)
- Love. It Comes in All Colors.
- The Nonstereotypical Role of Lieutenant Uhura
- Captain Pike has a female first officer & Captain Kirk hugs a mountain
- The Star Trek Opening Monologue
- Quoting the "First Lady of Star Trek"
- It's as simple as that
- Trekkies
- Quoting William Shatner
- Quoting Gene Roddenberry
- "Trek Against Trump": For a Future of Enlightenment and Inclusion
- More on space, spiced with some science fiction and a lot of diversity
- It's OK to be Takei
- Public Library

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- text via
- photograph via

Monday, 14 November 2016

Are you making plans for your wife's death? (1983)

After hours of office work, could you face hours of housework?
Could you be an executive by day and a chambermaid by night?
Could you afford £2.000 a year for a family cook?
Who'll play nursemaid if the kids fall ill?

Come on now, own up. The thought hasn't so much as crossed your mind, has it?
All along, you've blithely assumed that you'll be the first to go.
That your wife will be the one  who will need the financial looking-after.
That yours is the life that should be insured, not hers.
Noble and worthy sentiments indeed. But, if we may say so, short sighted ones, too.
There's no guaranteeing that your wife will outlive you.
(According to statistics, little more than a 60% chance in fact).
So have you ever thought what would happen to you if the unthinkable happened to her?
Not in the dim distant future.
But tomorrow, Friday, 24th June 1983? Could you cope?
On the purely practical front, think of the cooking, the washing, the hours of housework that you'd have to put in. More importantly, there's the children to consider.
Could you ever devote the sort of time to them they need and deserve?
The nightly bedtime stories? Helping them out with their maths homework? Teaching them what's what in the big wide world?
Heaven knows, you'd need help. Lots of it.
And like everything else nowadays, that sort of help doesn't come cheap.
According to a recent survey, the average mother of three ploughs through eighty hours of housework a week.
Eighty hours, mind.
At £2.50 an hour, that comes to a staggering £10,400 a year. Where on earth are you going to get hold of that sort of money?
Well, you could start at the bottom right hand corner of this page.
For as little as £15.00 a month, Albany Life can provide cover worth over £50,000 tax free:
If you prefer, we can even draw up a combined 'Husband and Wife' policy that pays out in the event of either of you dying.
If you'd like to discuss things further with us, post off the coupon straight away.
Planning for a wife's death may be no pleasant matter for a husband.
But for a father, it's a very necessary duty.

Albany Life Assurance Company Limited, incorporated on 25 March 1974, was a UK subsidiary of MetLife and sold to rival Canada Life in the 1990s (via and via).

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image via