Monday 31 July 2017

Christine Jorgensen, the first transgender celebrity in the U.S.

"I am still the same old “Brud,” but Nature made a mistake, which I have had corrected, and I am now your daughter."
Christine Jorgensen

"Jorgensen eventually moved from current event to yesterday's news, but as other stories of sex change appeared and reappeared, the media reminded the public that manhood, womanhood, and the boundaries between them were neither as obvious nor as impermeable as they once had seemed."
Meyerowitz, 2002

Christine Jorgensen (1926-1989) was born George William Jorgensen Jr. and became the first "transgender celebrity" in the U.S. As a teenager, Jorgensen became aware that he was trapped in the wrong body and identified himself "as a woman who happened to be in a man's body" or was "lost between the two sexes". In the 1940s, he came across an article about the Danish doctor Christian Hamburger who experimented with gender therapy by testing hormones on animals. After having served in the Army, Jorgensen headed to Copenhagen. There, Hamburger diagnosed him as transsexual and encouraged George William Jorgensen to take on a female identity and to dress as a woman in public. Jorgensen started taking hormones in 1950 and was also assessed by Georg Stürup, a psychiatrist who successfully petitioned the Danish government "to allow castration for the purposes of the operation." After one year of hormone therapy, Jorgensen "went under the knife"; the transition was completed in 1952 (via and via).

Jorgensen took her surgeon's forename to form her own name and returned to the U.S. as Christine Jorgensen, where she was greeted with fascination, admiration, curiosity and respect by the media and the public. Hundreds of reporters were waiting for her at the airport "ignoring even the presence of a member of the Danish royal family on the same airplane". Tabloids sensationalised her transsexualism ("Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty"). She had a series in the American Weekly that ran five weeks, five weeks during which the greatest circulation boost was reported; it became the number-one story of 1953. The series was translated into fourteen languages and distributed in seventy nations (Meyerowitz, 2002). The German "Der Spiegel" was rather sceptical. Its article from January 1955 read that GI George Jorgensen was alleged to be transformed into a woman.
At the beginning, there was hardly any hostility. Jorgensen, in fact, became a celebrity with hundreds of offers to appear on stages. She became an entertainer and performer in Las Vegas, Hollywood and New York, worked with professionals who explored "the transsexual phenomenon", lectured on the college circuit, wrote an autobiography that became a movie a few years later (via and via and via and via). She managed to turn "sex change" into a household term in the 1950s and became "Woman of the Year" (an award given by the Scandinavian Societies of Greater New York). With her story, the floodgates broke and a "torrent of new stories on other transsexuals made sex change a constant feature in the popular press" (Meyerowitz, 2002).
"After a few months, it became clear that Jorgensen had no desire to be a mother, and thus many called her womanhood into question. People became angry and frightened when confronted with a sexual identity that existed on a spectrum, not the male-female binary." (via)
Her popularity did not protect her from discrimination. Some reporters called her a freak or a pervert. Others observed her searching for "markers that connoted feminine and masculine, to articulate consciously the criteria that cast the person-on-the-street as either a woman or a man." One reporter admitted: "Since I knew she had once been a man, perhaps I was looking for masculine traits." A reporter of the New York Daily News wrote that Christine Jorgensen "husked 'Hello' and tossed off a Bloody Mary like a guy", commented the small size of her breasts and continued: "If you shut your eyes when she spoke you would have thought a man was talking. But her gestures with a cigaret were gracefully feminine. Her legs ... were smooth and trim. However, the planes of her face were flat and hard ... There was no hint of a beard." It was not only reporters who were not sure about her gender. The American Medical Association said that they would study her case as several doctors had questioned whether "it actually is possible for a man to be changed into a woman." When US-American doctors expressed outrage at the "mutilating surgery", the New York Post ran a six-part series claiming that she was a woman in name only and in fact a castrated male with no added female organs. Time magazine called her "an altered male", so did Newsweek and other magazines. Hostile stories began showing up. However, they could not really damage her popularity (Meyerowitz, 2002).
In 1959, she made headlines when she was denied a license to marry since her birth certificate said she was male (via). Her fiancé Howard J. Knox, a labour union statistician, was reported to have lost his job as soon as his engagement with Jorgensen became publicly known (via).
"By the custom of the day, which few questioned at the time, only a woman could marry a man. Where did Jorgensen, who had changed her assigned sex, fit into the categories of female and male? City Clerk Herman Katz, with six staff attorneys, eventually pointed to Jorgensen's birth certificate, which designated her sex a male. Jorgensen, backed by a lawyer of her own, produced her passport, which listed her sex as female, and a letter from her doctor, Harry Benjamin, attesting that 'she must be considered female'. The city of New York refused to issue the license. On April 4 the New York Times described the situation: 'Christine Jorgensen, an entertainer, was denied a marriage license yesterday on the ground of inadquate proof of being a female." (Meyerowitz, 2002)
Jorgensen, who never identified as gay, kept emphasising the difference between homosexual and transsexual - something new at the time. Before her transition, she even found homosexuality immoral as it was "a thing deeply alien" to her "religious attitudes and the highly magnified and immature moralistic views" she entertained at the time. In addition, she also feared "social segregation and ostracism" (Meyerowitz, 2002).

"Fear became part of me. Fear of being wrong. Fear of not fitting into a pattern."
Christine Jorgensen, cited in Meyerowitz (2002)

"We didn't start the sexual revolution but I think we gave it a good kick in the pants!"
Christine Jorgensen

"I read The Well of Loneliness not long ago. It made me more determined than ever to fight for this victory. The answer to the problem must not lie in sleeping pills and suicides that look like accidents, or in jail sentences, but rather in life and the freedom to live it."
Christine Jorgensen

"No one is 100 percent male or female. We all have elements of both male and female in our bodies. I just am more of a woman than I am a man."
Christine Jorgensen

"I think that much that has been classified as abnormal for many years is becoming accepted as normal."
Christine Jorgensen, cited in Meyerowitz (2002)

"During World War II women had temporarily taken on jobs and responsibilities traditionally held by men. And psychiatrists for the armed forces had worried publicly about what they saw as deficient masculinity in surprising numbers of male recruits. In the postwar era the anxieties surrounding shifting gender roles broke into over cultural contests, with conservatives nostaligally invoking a golden age when women were women and men were men. Popular magazines began to describe a "crisis in masculinity", noted the growing number of women in the labor force, and fretted over the fragility of "sex roles."
In this context, the press reports on Jorgensen, with their endless comments on her appearance, enabled a public reinscription of what counted as masculine and feminine. But the story itself, in which an "ex-GI" became a "blonde beauty", inevitably undermined the attempt to restabilize gender through stereotype. Jorgensen posed, more fundamentally, the questions of how to define a woman and how to define a man. The coverage could provoke anxiety about the collapse of the seemingly natural categories of male and female, and it could also incite fantasies of crossing the boundary that divided women from men." (Meyerowitz, 2002)

- Meyerowitz, J. (2002) How Sex Changed. A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge & London: Harvard University Press
- photographs via and via and via and via


- The Christine Jorgensen Story (1970): WATCH
- From Christine Jorgensen to Jan Morris: LINK
- America's Original Transgender Sweetheart: LINK

Sunday 30 July 2017

Embarrassment (1980)

"This is one Lee wrote. It wasn’t 'have you got a fascist friend' it was 'I’ve got someone racist in my family.'"

"Embarrassment might have sounded harmless enough, but strip away the bouncy music hall instrumentation and you're left with the chilling story of a young white woman who has been rejected by her family because she is carrying a black man's baby (...).
The song was a deeply personal response by Madness' saxophone player Lee Thompson to the news of his teenage sister's pregnancy by a black man. Written on tour in 1980, just as the band were starting to break big, it sketches the unfolding turmoil as uncles, aunts, mum and dad faced up to Tracy Thompson's mixed-race pregnancy. (...)
To fall pregnant, as Tracy had done, at 17, was frowned on - but out of wedlock, and to be carrying a "half-caste" baby was beyond the pale for some in the family, Lee recalls, as he thinks back to the experiences that informed the song." (Johnathan Duffy)
"It was just not accepted in those days. She was shunned by a few people in the family. My father tried to talk her into getting it terminated. My sister dug her heels in and I was caught in the middle, wanting everyone to be happy." Lee Thompson
Lee Thompson had a friend in the 1960s whose brother married a black woman and had a child with her: "I remember all the chat, the gossip, the cold-shouldering. He moved out of town in the end." (via)


Received a letter just the other day,
Don't seem they wanna know you no more,
They've laid it down given you their score,
Within the first two lines it bluntly read.

You're not to come and see us no more,
Keep away from our door,
Don't come 'round here no more
What on earth did you do that for?

Our aunt, she don't wanna know she says,
What will the neighbours think they'll think,
We don't that's what they'll think, we don't,
But I will, 'cause I know they think I don't.

Our uncle he don't wanna know he says,
We are a disgrace to the human race he says,
How can you show your face,
When you're a disgrace to the human race?

No committment, you're an embarrassment,
Yes, an embarrassment, a living endorsement,
The intention that you have booked,
Was an intention that was overlooked.

They say, stay away,
Don't want you home today,
Keep away from our door,
Don't come 'round here no more.

Our dad, he don't wanna know he says,
This is a serious matter,
Too late to reconsider,
No one's gonna wanna know ya!

Our mum, she don't wanna know,
I'm feelin' twice as old, she says,
Thought she had a head on her shoulder,
'Cause I'm feelin' twice as older,
I'm feelin' twice as older.

You're an embarrassment...

Wednesday 26 July 2017

L'horreur ne prend jamais de vacances

"Every year, a majority of French people spend their vacation on the Mediterranean coast. And every summer, the conditions at sea only increase the number of migrations and the probability of new tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean thus becomes a vast cemetery where more than 3 000 migrants drown each year."

"This movie is the first act of a campaign for a citizen mobilization which will last all summer. It will come to an end between September 4th and September 10th 2017, when about fifty “companions”, volunteers and employees of the Emmaüs Movement will swim and kayak across the Strait of Gibraltar. A militant crossing in tribute to the tens of thousands of people who died in the Mediterranean Sea and in support of free movement for all across the globe."

"Across the world, the Emmaüs Groups welcome destitute people who are deeply wounded by their journey as migrants and the shameful living conditions in most of the host countries. This is why our movement is particularly engaged in favor of the application of the #article13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country”."

Monday 24 July 2017

My Black is Beautiful

"We know that bias is not just an African American issue. It’s an issue that takes on many shapes and forms, across gender, race, age, weight, sexual orientation, and more. Our goal with 'The Talk' is to help raise awareness about the impact of bias, we are also hopeful that we can make progress toward a less biased future by recognizing the power of people of all backgrounds and races showing up for one another."
Damon D. Jones, director of global company communications for Procter & Gamble

"My Black is Beautiful was created in 2007 by a group of visionary black women at P&G to spark a broader dialogue about black beauty. Our mission is to ignite and support a sustained national conversation by, for and about black women. Together, we can serve as the catalyst for a movement that effects positive change."
Procter & Gamble

The My Black is Beautiful Manifesto (via):

From the color of my skin,
to the texture of my hair,
to the length of my strands,
to the breadth of my smile,
to the stride of my gait,

to the span of my arms,
to the depth of my bosom,
to the curve of my hips,
to the glow of my skin,
My Black is Beautiful.

It cannot be denied.
It will not be contained,
And only I will define it.
For when I look in my mirror,
my very soul cries out,
My Black is Beautiful.

And so today,
I speak it out loud,
I declare it anew,
My Black is Beautiful.

Whether celebrated,
exploited or denigrated.
Whether natural from inside
or skillfully applied,
My Black is Beautiful.

To my daughters,
my sisters,
my nieces,
my cousins,
my colleagues and my friends,
I speak for us all when I say again,
My Black is Beautiful.

- - - - - - -

More P&G commercials/diversity campaigns:

::: #WeSeeEqual: WATCH
::: #LikeAGirl: WATCH
::: Unstoppable: WATCH

Thursday 20 July 2017

Iron Eyes Cody, the "typical" Cherokee of Italian origin

Iron Eyes Cody (1904-1999) was born (in Louisiana) Espera Oscar de Corti, second son of Antonio de Corti and Francesca Salpietra who were both from southern Italy. When he began acting in Hollywood in the 1930s, he also began telling people that his father was Cherokee and his mother Cree - a descent he seemed to be insisting on also in his private life and even after his history was revealed.

"To those unfamiliar with Indigenous American or First Nations cultures and people, he apparently gave the appearance of living "as if" he were Native American, fulfilling the stereotypical expectations by wearing his film wardrobe as daily clothing—including braided wig, fringed leathers and beaded moccasins— at least when photographers were visiting, and in other ways continuing to play the same Hollywood-scripted roles off-screen as well as on." (via)
Iron Eyes Cody spent his life as an "Indian", more than that, a "typical Indian", became the "face of Native Indians" and was even said to be "America's favorite Indian" (via). Obviously, there was no need to be real in order to be (stereo)typical.
Only in 1996 did the public learn that Iron Eyes Cody was of Italian origin (via).

His face was viewed about 14 billion times on billboards, posters, and magazines. He played with Steve McQueen, Richard Harris, Ronald Reagan, and John Wayne and to those who did not know him from movies, he became a well-known face through his role in the commercial "The Crying Indian" (via) which was produced for Earth Day in 1971. At first he was reluctant to do the commercial as "Indians don't cry" but he later changed his mind (via).

Iron Eyes Cody got his knowledge about "Indians" from the time when he was touring the country with his father in a wild west show. It was during these tours that he taught himself "the sign language of other tribes of Indians" (via).
"But several (real) Native American actors soon came to doubt Iron Eyes’ authenticity. Jay Silverheels, the Indian actor who played “Tonto” in The Lone Ranger, pointed out inaccuracies in Iron Eyes’ story; Running Deer, a Native American stuntman, agreed that there was something strangely off-putting about the man’s heritage. It wasn’t until years later that these doubts were affirmed." (via)
Iron Eyes Cody apparently saw himself as an advocate of Native Americans and identified strongly with them. On tours, he reminded indigenous US-Americans of their traditions and admonished them against gambling and alcohol (via)
“Nearly all my life, it has been my policy to help those less fortunate than myself. My foremost endeavors have been with the help of the Great Spirit to dignify my People's image through humility and love of my country. If I have done that, then I have done all I need to do." Iron Eyes Cody
::: Rare TV interview with Iron Eyes Cody: WATCH/LISTEN

- - - - - - - - -
images via and via

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Marlon Brando & Martin Luther King: Their letters and telegrams

"A typescript letter, signed, dated 15 January, 1959, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Marlon Brando on 1959 Petition Campaign and YOUTH MARCH FOR INTEGRATED SCHOOLS... headed stationery, the letter informing Brando "At the now-famous Youth March for Integrated Schools last October, you will recall that ten thousand young people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial and there voted to return this Spring to Washington "to press for the laws which will guide and sanction our advancement to a fuller, more just interracial democracy"...we are now in the process of reconstituting and enlarging the committee to acheive (sic) the objectives of the Lincoln Memorial meeting through a Petition Campaign for hundreds of thousands of signatures and a Youth March carrying the Petitions to the Congress and the White House on April, 18, 1959..." 

The letter goes on to ask for Marlon Brando's help... "We need the help of important Americans for whom the youth of the nation have respect. You are such an American. We would be honored if you would lend your name to the sponsorship of the Petition Campaign and Youth March for Integrated Schools of 1959...1p.", signed in blue ballpoint pen by Martin Luther King, Ralph Bunche and A. Philip Randolph, with reply card, stamped addressed envelope and typescript petition; accompanied by five Western Union telegrams, including: one from Martin Luther King Jr. to Marlon Brando, dated 18 March, 1965, inviting him to ..."join me in a march to Alabama's capitol beginning at Brown's Chapel in Selma, Sunday March 21, at 1.00P.M."; another to Martin Luther King from Brando, dated 10 June, 1964, the telegram telling King "I recently returned from the hosptal after having had an attack of sever bleeding from an ulcer. I have been subject to great personal strife in my own life and am obliged to go into Court Thursday. I feel honored that you asked for what assistance I could give. I cannot at this time be of assistance. It distresses me that I will not be able to join you..."; and a letter from the Rally For Freedom Committee, dated 29 May, 1963, thanking Brando for his donation of $5,000" (literally via) realised a price of USD 13.200,- at Christie's.


June 10, 1964





- - - - - -
images via and via, transcript of the telegram via

Monday 17 July 2017

Quoting Charlotte Perkins Gilman

“There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. As well speak of a female liver.”
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)

photograph taken around 1900 via

Thursday 13 July 2017

Narrative images: A Woman Hitting a Neo-Nazi With Her Handbag

"Some images never go out of date. They remain endlessly urgent. Where most viral photos enjoy a fleeting flash of fame, flaring up like a rash across social media, there is a cache of imperishable images that have lingered longer and strike a deeper chord. They stay forever part of the mind’s permanent collection of archetypal signs."
Kelly Grovier

"Kvinnan med handväskan" or "The woman with the handbag" is a photograph that was taken by Hans Runesson in the Swedish city of Växjö on 13 April 1985. The photograph shows neo-nazis marching and supporting the "Nordic Reich Party" and, most importantly, Danuta Danielsson (1947-1988) hitting a neo-nazi (via).
"Predating by decades the instant-reaction platforms of Facebook and Twitter, an edgy image captured on the streets of Växjö, Sweden in April 1985 during a demonstration by the Neo-Nazi Nordic Reich Party succeeded (without today’s propulsive power of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’) to imprint itself on the cultural consciousness. Snapped at the instant when a Polish-Swedish passerby, whose mother had reportedly been sent to a Nazi concentration camp, could no longer contain her irritation at having to share civic space with fascists, the black-and-white photo of Danuta Danielsson clocking a Neo-Nazi with her handbag continues to resonate for many as a silent rallying cry." Kelly Grovier
Reactions to this photograph ranged from applauding Danuta Danielsson, calling her a hero and wanting to honour her with a statue... to criticising her and deciding not to honour her with a statue as that would - among other reasons - otherwise "glorify violence"... back to people hanging handbags on statues around the world in reaction to Danielsson's statue not being built (via). A debate started whether a mild form of violence as the "handbag scene" captured is socially acceptable with the moralising undertone that one needs to differentiate "between behaviour we might understand and behaviour we can applaud" (via). Of course violence is not acceptable. Still, the focus of this discussion may only be touching the surface considering the form of violence exhibited here, the background of the woman and what the neo-nazi was actively demonstrating for.
"She is unquestionably also one of Nazism’s real victims–this is the downtrodden’s reaction to racist violence." Ola Luoto
Danuta Danielsson was of Polish-Jewish origin. 85% of the deportees murdered in Auschwitz were Jewish (i.e. 1.1 million people, 900.000 of them in gas chambers immediately on arrival), 10.8% (i.e. 140.000 persons) of the deportees killed there were Poles (via). Danuta Danielsson's mother was one of the few persons (31.746 were reported in January 1945, via) who survived Auschwitz.
And there she is in a Swedish city, four decades after the official end of the murderous Nazi regime and sees skinheads mourning the good old nazi days and supporting the Nordic Reich Party, a party that was "deeply involved in extended legal disputes with the Swedish government over the distribution of anti-Semitic literature". The Nordic Reich Party was led by Göran Assar Oredsson who actively promoted "the National Socialist revival in Scandinavia" (Kaplan, 2000). When "Keep Sweden Swedish" emerged in 1979, a nationalist activist group that "prophesized cultural and economic devastation due to immigration, as well as the loss of racial purity and the inability for nonwhites to function in Swedish society", the Nordic Reich Party was not part of this movement because Keep Sweden Swedish hardly celebrated Hitler or presented Jews as a significant threat, in other words, was too moderate and not nazi enough. The Nordic Reich Party even alleged that "the activist group was filled with disguised Zionists bent on undermining National Socialism and the resurgence of the Nordic race" (Teitelbaum, 2017). This is the ideology the "handbag victim" was demonstrating for.

The skinhead Danielsson hit, by the way, was Seppo Seluska who was said to be convicted for torturing and murdering a Jewish homosexual the same year the photograph was taken (via). Danuta Danielsson allegedly commited suicide in 1988 (via).

There is the question why statues of men holding swords are more acceptable than a woman holding a handbag (via). There is also the hypothetical question what this neo-nazi would have done to her Jewish mother in the 1940s. There are many more questions. The photograph is still considered to be both controversial and inspiring. Artist Susanna Arwin created a small bronze model in 2014, in 2015, handbags "mysteriously started to appear on statues across Sweden" protesting the decision not to dedicate a statue to Danielsson (via). This year, Ramsey Nasser and Jane Friedhoff developed "Handväska" ("handbag"), a video game in which you can hit nazis with handbags (via)
"That photo was from f*** yesterday. It’s from Sweden, and it was the local Swedish neo-nazi movement going on parade. So this was way after the second World War." Ramsey Nasser
- - - - - - - - -
- Kaplan, J. (2000). Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right. Walnut Creek, Lanham, New York &. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield
- Teitelbaum, B. R. (2017). Lions of the North: Sounds of the New Nordic Radical Nationalism. Oxford University Press ebook
- photograph via

Tuesday 11 July 2017

A Razor Designed for Assisted Shaving

"In the past 100 years, over 4000 razor have been designed to shave yourself. There have been 0 designed with the intent to shave someone else. Until now. (...) With millions of people around the globe under care, Gillette offers a humble but meaningful improvement in their daily lives."

"And I'd do anything, anything for him." This wonderful commercial about love, role reversal, and more love shows Kristian Rex and his father, a former boat captain who suffered a stroke and cannot complete some tasks since then - such as shaving (via).

Monday 10 July 2017

That Unfinished Oscar Speech, by Marlon Brando (1973)

"Hello. My name is Sacheen Littlefeather. I'm Apache and I am president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee. I'm representing Marlon Brando this evening and he has asked me to tell you in a very long speech, which I cannot share with you presently because of time but I will be glad to share with the press afterwards, that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry – excuse me – and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee. I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening and that we will in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity. Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando."
Sacheen Littlefeather

"Ask most kids about details about Auschwitz or about how the American Indians were assassinated as a people and they don't know anything about it. They don't want to know anything. Most people just want their beer or their soap opera or their lullaby." Marlon Brando
In March 1973, Marlon Brando (1924-2004) declined the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in "The Godfather". Instead, he asked Sacheen Littlefeather - actress, activist for Native American civil rights and then-president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee - to attend the ceremony in his place (via and via). This was one of the most political and powerful moments in Oscar history (via and via) and not everybody appreciated it (John Wayne, for instance, was not amused). A "tsunami of criticism" followed (via).
One of Marlon Brando's reasons was the way the film industry portrayed Native Americans. At that time, a "high proportion of the Western made up to the 1950s, (...), showed Indians as hostile savages attacking the whites." They were "represented as motiveless and insanely violent" and "merely the backcloth to the inevitable white settlement of the West" (Stokes, 2013).
Apparently, people did not only have a problem with her message but with her being a woman as well:
"Oh, I got threats. They said, 'Why did they send a woman to do a man's job?' [The people backstage] said they’d give me 60 seconds, or they’d arrest me. John Wayne was in the wings, ready to have me taken off stage. He had to be restrained by six security guards. Afterward people questioned my authenticity, they said I wasn’t even Indian."  Sacheen Littlefeather
"They were booing because they thought, 'Well, this moment is sacrosanct and you’re ruining our fantasy with the intrusion of a little reality'". Marlon Brando
"Remember, I was making a profound statement: I did not use my fist, I did not use profanity, I used grace and elegance and quiet strength as my tools." Sacheen Littlefeather
After her brief speech, Littlefeather was escorted away by two security people who protected her. People made "some very stereotypical sounds" and threw tomahawk chops towards her. Her activism brought renewed attention to Wounded Knee but also the end of her career. The actress was not hired again as people within the industry were afraid hiring her would shut down their productions (via).

The following day, the New York Times printed Brando's unfinished Oscar speech:

That Unfinished Oscar Speech

For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ''Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.''

When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.

But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?

It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one's neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we're not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.

Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don't concern us, and that we don't care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.

I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It's hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.

Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.

I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.

Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.

(speech via)

Trivia: Scandals around Brando's Oscar trophy continued. Leonardo DiCaprio, who was given Marlon Brando's Oscar trophy for his performance in "Wolf of Wall Street", gave it back this year because the production company was "skewed up in a billion dollar money-laundering scheme" (via).

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- Stokes, M. (2013). American History through Hollywood Film: From the Revolution to the 1960s.
- image via

Saturday 8 July 2017

Hoping dream becomes reality, by Nichelle Nichols (1968)

Like most entertainers, TV and cinema personalities. it has been my pleasure to be actively involved with the struggle of my people attempting to extricate themselves from the bonds of discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry that has held us so fast, for so long.

I’ve been more than happy to appear at schools, churches and community affairs in hope that what success I have attained could serve as an inspiration for some black youth who might otherwise give up. The energy and time I have invested in helping the mothers of Watts, VISTA, Head Start, Bootstrap and OIS has been meaningful to me.

Fighting for a race

I know I am not only fighting and working for my people as a race, I’m fighting for myself as an individual as well. As a black person, I am affected by the same unjust elements, simply on a different level.

One of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had was in a poverty area church . . . predominantly black. The minister had asked me to talk to the youth group. His concern was for their future, their ambitions, and discouraging from violence.

What can one say to a 17-year-old black boy who says, “Miss Nichols, before I die in Vietnam for a country that will not acknowledge me as a person, I’d rather die in the streets fighting for my freedom here. And if not my freedom. maybe the next generations to come.”

Perhaps this was the first time I had truly understood the meaning of the Black Movement, for even in spite of their despair I could feel a great sense of pride. Many of the girls and boys now wore their hair in the natural style. Yes, they were black AND proud of it. Poor AND not happy with it. American AND determined to be treated like it. Could I assure him of equality? Could I assure him of his rights?

As the first black woman in a TV series, I had made a small fissure in the wall surrounding a closed wall called “for whites only.” Would I set a precedent to help open the way to greater involvement in the industry? Would I be able to gain greater acceptance and understanding of my people as people?

At that moment, I realized how badly my people need help, and how badly my country needed help.

The best way to help my people and all people is to help the nation wake up. We as a enemy known to man, ourselves. people are facing the greatest As long as we live from riot to riot and from assassination to assassination, this country is in trouble.

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The article "She's hoping dream becomes reality" was originally published in The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana) on 26 July 1968, text via Click Americana

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Thursday 6 July 2017

Diversity is flawlessly logical. Four years "Diversity is beautiful", Spock and my Vulcan ear.

Four years, 595 postings (24 of them on Star Trek), 5832 subscribers, 6.723.579 views, and thousands of interestinglogical and fascinating comments. Thank you so much and .... live long and prosper!

original image via, creatively modified by Paperwalker

Sunday 2 July 2017

"As long as I can I'm gonna play. It's just too much fun."

"I was 78 years old when I got my first basketball shoes. So that was a thrill. Growing up we didn’t have sports like the girls do today. We didn’t have the opportunity to play; that was before Title IX."
Grace Larsen (91)

"It keeps me off the streets and out of the bingo parlors -- saves me money."
Nina Duncan (85)

The Senior Women's Basketball Associaten accpets players from all walks of life who are 50 and older. To make the Splash team, however, athletes have to be at least 80 years old (via). Here is a wonderful clip about these impressive women:

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