Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr. (1943-1993)

Arthur Ashe started playing tennis when he was six years old on a segregated playground adjacent to his home in Virginia. In 1958, he became the first black US-American to play in the Maryland boys' championships which was also his first integrated tennis competition. Later, he became the first black tennis player selected to the United Statis Davis Cup team and the first and only black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the US Open (via and via).

"In actuality, Arthur Ashe was a trailblazer for African American males in tennis every time he succeeded on the court, in much the same fashion as Althea Gibson had for African American females some 10 years earlier. The relevance of these accomplishments was not lost on Ashe. His determination to succeed despite being an outcast in a historically white sport was put to an even greater test in 1969. 

In a year (1969), when he was basking in the international fame, he had gained the previous year after winning the US Open and playing a key role on the United States winning Davis Cup team, two separate issues came to the forefront and helped shape Arthur the activist, a role he never ran from throughout his life if he believed in the cause. At a time when tennis’ popularity was growing by leaps and bounds, the amount of prize money being offered to the players, the “drawing cards,” was lagging disproportionately behind. Ashe and several other players formed in 1969, what later became known as the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals). It is from this small and visionary beginning that today’s top players enjoy the large sums of prize money for which they compete. Later that year, as the #1-ranked American and one of the best players in the world, Arthur applied for a visa to play in the South African Open, a prestigious event. His visa was denied because of the color of his skin. Though Arthur was well aware that this would probably be the case, he decided to take a bold stand. His call for expulsion from South Africa from the tennis tour and Davis Cup play was quickly supported by numerous prominent individuals and organizations, both in and out of the tennis world. In effect, he raised the world’s awareness to the oppressive form of government (apartheid) of South Africa. Buoyed by Arthur Ashe’s initial efforts, blacks in South Africa slowly but surely began to see change come about in their country." (via)

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photograph via 

Monday, 26 September 2022

"I am not a black artist." Jean-Michel Basquiat

"I am not a black artist, I am an artist."
Jean-Michel Basquiat 

"The black person is the protagonist in most of my paintings. I realized that I didn't see many paintings with black people in them."

It was lonely, he was lonely, the only black man in the room, his prodigy status like that of a toy. “They’re just racist, most of those people,” he’s quoted as saying in Dieter Buchhart’s Now’s the Time (Prestel). “So they have this image of me: wild man running – you know, wild monkey man, whatever the fuck they think.” (literally via The Guardian)

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photographs via and via

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Saturday, 24 September 2022

The Mobile Gender Gap Report

According to the 2020 findings of the Mobile Gender Gap Report, in low- and middle-income countries...
... men and women report that mobile provides crucial benefits, that mobile ownership makes them feel safer and gives them access to information needed and otherwise not available or accessible.

... there is a significant gender gap in smartphone ownership. In low- and middle-income countries, women are 20% less likely than men to own a smartphone. Women are less likely to acquire a smartphone but stress their intention to get one.

... 300 million fewer women access the internet on a mobile phone.
... the gender gap is narrowing (27% in 2017 vs 20% in 2020) and progress is made in some regions.
... the main barriers for both men and women are affordability, lack of literacy and digital skills.

- GSM Association (2020). The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020, via
- photographs (Grey Villet, LIFE, 1956) via

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Spaghetti Italienne

(...) Italians arived in an America that was at best ambiguous about their food habits. On the one hand, in the 1890s the eating habits of wealthier Americans were being influenced by the latest trends in England, whose fancy hotels and country-house kitchens were again being invaded by "Contintental" chefs, usually bearing recipes from French haute cuisine. Upper-class American hotels, restaurants, and clubs shifted away from the overwhelmingly "American" and English dishes and meals that had previously characterized their menus. By the turn of the century "Spaghetti Italienne" had joined the extensive choice of American and French items. It was usually served as one of the first courses, along with or instead of chicken livers, sweetbreas, or other relatively light items. But the Italian invasion of elite dining rooms at around this time appears to have halte with spaghetti.

(...) the fact that the character of Italian immigration into America had changed markedly in the previous twenty years must also have discouraged thoughts of popularizing Italian food among the upper crust. Before 1880 the relatively few Italian immigrants to America had often been skille people from the north of Italy who were relatively acceptable by native-born White Anglo-Saxon Protestant standards. By 1901, however, as the deluge of unskilled and poverty-stricken immigrants from the Mezzogiorno struck America's cities, Italy no longer merely connoted Rennaissance palaces and happy gondoliers on the native-born mind. More immediate were images of swarthy immigrants in teeming tenements: sewer diggers, railroad navvies, crime, violence, and the dreaded cutthroats of the "Black Hand." Spaghetti could stay on the menu, but only as "Italienne", the French spelling bringing some reassurance that the original Italian dish had been civilized and purified in French hands. (Levenstein, 1985:77)

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- Levenstein, H. (1985). The American Response to Italian Food, 1880-1930. Food and Foodways, 75-90.
- photograph via

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Quoting Queen Elizabeth II

“Religion and culture are much in the news these days, usually as sources of difference and conflict, rather than for bringing people together. But the irony is that every religion has something to say about tolerance and respecting others.”
Queen Elizabeth II

“We may hold different points of view but it is in times of stress and difficulty that we most need to remember that we have much more in common than there is dividing us.”

photographs via and via

Friday, 26 August 2022

Mr Chomsky, how does one become an activist?

"The easy answer would be to say that we do not become activists; we simply forget that we are. We are all born with compassion, generosity, and love for others inside us. We are all moved by injustice and discrimination. We are all, inside, concerned human beings. We all want to give more than to receive. We all want to live in a world where solidarity and companionship are more important values than individualism and selfishness. We all want to share beautiful things; experience joy, laughter, love; and experiment, together."

photograph of Noam Chomsky via

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Venster Kykers

Apartheid meant that socialising with somebody with a darker skin tone could turn your skin dark...

"There are in South Africa many thousands of people who cannot be classified according to a rigid system of racial identification. . . The lightest-coloured members of these ["border-line"] families often "passed "as whites and went to live in separate homes. Their darker relatives have been referred to as "Venster-Kykers" ["window lookers"] because, in order not to embarrass those who had "passed," they made a practice of looking studiously into shop windows in order to avoid greetings should they happen to meet on the streets." (Horrell, 1958:4, cited in Bowker & Star, 1999)

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photograph (waitress, Bezuidenhout Park, 1973; MCA/Goodman Gallery) by David Goldblatt via

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Awkward Puppets: Car Talk

"So, where do you wanna eat?"
"Let me guess, let me guess.
  Taco Bell.
"Where do you wanna eat?

"So, what is it like mowing my lawn all day?"
"I don't know. What is it like eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all day?"

::: Awkward Puppets, Car Talk: WATCH

image via

Monday, 1 August 2022

Asking Nichelle Nichols about the Phenomenon of Very Excitable Fandom

First, it was a first. Now, there are all kinds of conventions that celebrate their favorites, but this was the first. And so it was very, very different. And it was very honorable, you know? They loved the show. They got it. They got that Gene Roddenberry created something in the future that "today" -- 1966 -- dispelled all the racism, all the ... Dr. King was marching, every day you'd look on the TV and people are having hoses and dogs [used on them] because they wanted to eat at a fountain -- though they wanted more than that. 

And Dr. King was the person who was guiding that. And Gene was the person who was announcing that not only was this going to succeed, but it already has, because when the 23rd century [arrives], see, there's Nichelle, there's Uhura, in the 23rd century, communication officer, fourth in command. So it didn't just start in the 23rd century. It started from what you're seeing on television every day. Men and women of the future are here now. 

[And the fans] got it. I'll just tell you one of the most important things that someone said who was white. He said, "When discrimination, when racial discrimination was outlawed, black people weren't the only people who were freed. We were freed, too. We were freed to care, we were freed to think and not be bound by racism, and protocol, and what our parents think." Because a lot of parents didn't want their kids looking at Star Trek.

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image via