Friday 31 August 2018

Sami. A Long History of Discrimination.

The Sami, indigenous people living in Arctic areas of Sweden, Finland, Norway and the Kola peninsula of Russia, are believed to have been living in northern Scandinavia since at least 11.000 BCE. When the Vikings arrived in the 8th century, Sami were driven further north where they were able to keep their independence and nomadic lifestyles ranging from reindeer herders to fishermen and fur trappers. Starting with the 14th century, Sweden and Norway showed interest in the riches of Sami lands and turned them into "Sami tax lands" and "tax mountains". Sami had to pay taxes if they wanted to stay where they were. In other words, they were forced to leave their lifestyles and to find new occupations (via and via).

In the 17th century, Sweden discoverd the first silver deposit and forced Sami to transport the ore as using reindeer was the only way of transportation. Wages were so low that they caused a crisis, forcing Sami to turn to begging or fleeing either further north in Sweden or to Norway. Their land was colonised more and more. In the 18th century, Sami lost any inheritance right in the Sami tax lands (via).
In the 19th century, Sami were relocated, settlers encouraged to move northwards (by promising a 15-year exemption from taxes while creating a tax burden for Sami), and Sami lands sold to wealthy landowners by the governments. Norway outlawed the usage of "primitive and backward" Sami languages and customs, children were taught in the Norwegian language only, converted to Christianity and given Christian names. The situation in Sweden was similar, so-called Lappmark priests were appointed and Sami had to attend church.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Norway passed a law that fertile land owned by Sami was to be given up to the government. At that time, Sami people and culture were erased through mass sterilisation and assimilation. In Sweden, Sami lost the right to own land with the Reindeer Grazing Act of 1928. They also reduced women's legal status as reindeer herding was defined as a man's job and women became more and more dependent on men. In addition, the "definition of the Sami as nomadic reindeer herders has created a system of different rights for different Sami. These rights have been founded in a conception of cultural inferiority where policies were formed about the Sami, not with them." (via and via).

"One example described by Lundmark is found in 1909 report on the Sami schools where reindeer herding is considered incompatible with civilisation. The special education system for certain Sami, the Sami schools, were intended for the children of the nomadic mountain Sami. Wooden Lapp cots were built where the children lived and were taught. This effectively separated the children of the mountain Sami from those of the forest Sami. The State regarded the forest Sami as corrupted nomads, since their way of life was not considered to be as genuinely Sami as that of the mountain Sami. The children of the forest Sami and other domiciled Sami had to attend the same schools as the Swedish children. The level of teaching in the nomad schools was not the same as for Swedish children, but the teaching hours were shorter and the competence requirements for the teachers were lower. Since the Sami children were to become reindeer herders, the State felt that they did not need extensive education. This continued until the end of the 1930s."
Ombudsmannen Mot Etnisk Diskriminering, 2008

Only in 1977 did Sweden recognise Sami as an indigenous people ... without "any appreciable consequences as regards Sami policy" who continue having the status of a national minority instead of the status as an indigenous people. Today, Sami children are discriminated against, bullied and harassed at school, mother tongue teaching is not taken seriously, in their contacts with authorities, Sami "find themselves in a position of dependence", there is still a lack of Sami influence when it comes to matters that concern them, when seeking medical care, many report the feeling of being insulted by medical staff, there is no real Sami eldercare, Sami are discriminated against at employment offices, job interviews and places of work, mass media conveys the picture of "exotic, frock-wearing people" or "a reactionary group dependent of social welfare" (via).

- Ombudsmannen Mot Etnisk Diskriminering/Swedish Equality Ombudsman (2008). Discrimination of the Sami - the rights of the Sami from a discrimination perspective; download
- photographs via and via (first two by Erika Larsen, National Geographic) and via and via and via and via (last one by Michael Perry, National Geographic), copyright by owners

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Quoting Stanley Donen

"My childhood wasn't very happy. It's a long, grim story about being a Jew in a small southern town." 
Stanley Donen

photograph of Audrey Hepburn and Stanley Donen - director of my all-time favourite movie "Charade" - working on a dance for Funny Face, Paris 1957 via

Monday 27 August 2018

Narrative images: Civil Disobedience (1963)

"A woman blocking dump trucks, slowing construction through civil disobedience as part of a protracted battle against unfair hiring practices at the Downstate Medical Center. Brooklyn. 1963." (via)

"The 1963 image by Bob Adelman appears to be a typical civil rights photograph. But it is not. The solitary woman’s act of defiance was far from the Deep South: It took place at Brooklyn’s Downstate Medical Center." (via)

“This photograph by Bob Adelman, from Mark Speltz’s book, ‘North of Dixie: Civil Rights Photography beyond the South,’ dispels the notion that racism and segregation were just a Southern problem. Growing up in a low-income housing project in New York, I observed the withering effects of white racism in one of the nation’s most liberal cities.” (via)

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photograph by Bob Adelman (1931-2016) via, copyright by owner(s)

Friday 24 August 2018

There Is Black. And There Is Black.

"The lighter an African American actor or model is and the more Anglo-white her features, the greater her chances are of accessing certain societal rewards such as movie or other media exposure. (...) Darker African women are made into societal misfits who are targeted for more devaluing than their lighter counterparts by the white cultural artists."
Jean & Feagin, 2015: 87f

- Jean, Y. S. & Feagin, J. R. (2015). Double Burden. Black Women and Everyday Racism. London & New York: Routledge.
- photograph of Lena Horne (1917-2010) by Wayne Miller, 1947 via (copyright by owner)

Thursday 23 August 2018

Project Body Hair

"Ads for men’s razors frequently show men trimming and grooming their beards. Products marketed at women typically show them shaving legs or armpits already rendered completely hairless."
Martin Belam, The Guardian

Monday 20 August 2018

Dear Mama, by Armistead Maupin (1977)

Armistead Maupin spent half his life writing his coming-out letter to his mother which he finally - rather than sending it to her - sent to the San Francisco Chronicle. Readers cut out the column, put their names on the bottom and sent it to their own parents. Maupin's father - an avid Republican living in North Carolina - replied weeks later with the note: "Dear Teddy, As you know your mother is very ill, so any additional stress can only exacerbate the situation. Love, Daddy." (via).

Dear Mama,
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to write. Every time I try to write you and Papa I realize I'm not saying the things that are in my heart. That would be OK, if I loved you any less than I do, but you are still my parents and I am still your child.
I have friends who think I'm foolish to write this letter. I hope they're wrong. I hope their doubts are based on parents who love and trust them less than mine do. I hope especially that you'll see this as an act of love on my part, a sign of my continuing need to share my life with you. I wouldn't have written, I guess, if you hadn't told me about your involvement in the Save Our Children campaign. That, more than anything, made it clear that my responsibility was to tell you the truth, that your own child is homosexual, and that I never needed saving from anything except the cruel and ignorant piety of people like Anita Bryant.
I'm sorry, Mama. Not for what I am, but for how you must feel at this moment. I know what that feeling is, for I felt it for most of my life. Revulsion, shame, disbelief — rejection through fear of something I knew, even as a child, was as basic to my nature as the color of my eyes (...). (via)

image via

Friday 17 August 2018

Urban, Well-Educated, Ambitious: The Sexist Narrative of Leftover Women

"Do leftover women really deserve our sympathy? Girls with an average or ugly appearance … hope to further their education in order to increase their competitiveness. The tragedy is they don't realise that, as women age, they are worth less and less, so by the time they get their MA or PhD, they are already old, like yellowed pearls."
Women's Federation, China (article on their website)

Due to the long Chinese tradition of preferring sons, there are more men than women who have not yet found a partner. But among the unmarried people, women seem to be the problem (via) and are blamed for marriage market challenges (Feldshuh, 2017). Women who have not married in their early 20s in rural areas and by the age of 27 in cities are called "leftover women" in China. In 1982, less than 5% of women reached their late 20s without getting married. Now, almost 30% of urban Chinese women are single despite being in their late 20s. (via).
"There is an opinion that A-quality guys will find B-quality women, B-quality guys will find C-quality women, and C-quality men will find D-quality women. The people left are A-quality women and D-quality men. So if you are a leftover woman, you are A-quality." Huang Yuanyuan
Most "leftover women" are urban, well-educated and have thriving careers. No matter how impressive their educational or professional accompllishments, women are devalued if they have not married by a certain age. The higher their education, the smaller the chances to find a suitable husband since men show a tendency to feel intimidated by women who are their equals. Chinese single women with a PhD are referred to as the "third sex" as men - even academics - do not wish to marry them (via). These women "threaten the moral fabric ... for being free agents, unnatural in failing to perform their duty to give birth to a child and tame a restless man." (via)
Young women who do not have advanced degrees and have not traveled to other countries often end up with men who are called “shake-and-bake” husbands: “the kind who, shortly after shaking his hand, you are married to and baking his children.” (via)
The economic consequences of being forced into marriage are extremely troubling for women, e.g. concerning property (via), having a child as a single parent is illegal and single mothers have to pay high "social compensation fees", employers require female job applicants to indicate their marital status (via), parents feel disrespected and humiliated (via).
In a bid to end the ‘humiliation’ of not having a married son or daughter, a growing number of parents are venturing back in to the dating game, and finding a partner for their single son or daughter. Known as ‘marriage markets,” parents of single children gather in selected city parks, in the hope of matching their child with the offspring of another desperate parent. (via)
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- Feldshuh, H. (2017). Gender, media, and myth-making: constructing China#s leftover women. Asian Journal of Communication, 28(1), 38-54.
- photograph by Yau Leung (1941-1997) via

Thursday 16 August 2018

Don't Be a Sucker! (1943)

X: "I happen to know the facts, my friends. I'm just an average American but I'm an American American and some of the things I see in this country of ours make my blood boil. ... I see negroes holding jobs that belong to me and you. Now I ask you, will you allow this thing to go on?..."
Y: "I've heard this kind of talk before but I never expected to hear it here in America..."

X: "And I tell you friends, we'll never be able to call this country our own until it's a country without. Without what? Without negroes, without alien foreigners, without Catholics, without Freemasons... These are the enemies. These are the people who are trying to take over all our country. Now you know them. You know what they stand for and it's up to you and me to fight them. Fight them and destroy them before they destroy us. Thank you.
Y: "... In this country we have no other people. We are American people. ... I saw it in Berlin ... One by one he attacked each minority and he split them off one from the other. These men were all fellow Germans when they came here today. Now they were split into rival groups suspicious of each other, hating each other. They were being swindled, all of them. But the man who was really being fooled was Hans. He was pure German, according to Nazi standards. To him they promised everything and he fell for it. That's how Hans became a Superman. They gave him a uniform and they pumped up his ego. He wasn't just a little fellow off to work any more, he was a member of the master race... And so for all practical purposes, truth had been abolished in Germany. ... We must never let ourselves be divided by race or colour or religion because in this country we all belong to minority groups. ... You see, here in America it's not a question whether we tolerate minorities. America is minorities. ... Let's forget about we and they. Let's think about us."

::: Shorter version of the film: WATCH

Monday 13 August 2018

India. No Country for Women.

According to a survey conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2018 (the first one was carried out in 2011), India is the most dangerous country in the world for women, followed by Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Between 2007 and 2016, crime against women rose 83% in India alone. In 2016 - again, in India alone - 40.000 rapes were reported. 70% of sexual harassment victims do not report their cases. Girls are molested in school, women raped by taxi drivers, teens trafficked and sold to brothels (via).

The key areas of the poll were healthcare, discrimination, cultural traditions, sexual violence, non-sexual violence and human trafficking. Cultural traditions comprise acid attacks, female genital mutilation, child, marriage, forced marriage, stoning, physical abuse and mutilation to punish, and female infanticide. Discrimination includes job discrimination, inability to make a livelihood, discriminatory land-property-inheritance rights, lack of access to education and to adequate nutrition. (via). At least 20 million women (i.e. the population of London, Paris and New York) have left the workforce for reasons such as sexual harassment. Only 27% work (via).

The full report: Thomson Reuters Foundation

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photograph "Woman and a goat" by William Gedney, India, 1970 via

Friday 10 August 2018

"Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever." George Wallace's Conversion.

George Corley Wallace, Jr. (1919-1998) was Governor of Alabama and a U.S. presidential candidate for four elections (via). And, Wallace was an ardent segregationist.

In 1958, Wallace ran in the Democratic primary for governor, so did his opponent John Malcolm Patterson. Patterson was supported by the Ku Klux Klan, Wallace had spoken against them and was endorsed by the NAACP. Patterson won, Wallace lost. In order to boost his career, Wallace became racist:
"Seymore, you know why I lost that governor's race? ... I was outniggered by John Patterson. And I'll tell you here and now, I will never be outniggered again."
"You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor."
In his Inaugural Address on 14 January 1963, he declared: "In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." With "tyranny", Wallace referred to attempts of desegregation. His speechwriter, by the way, was Asa Earl Carter (1925-1979), founder of a military Ku Klux Klan splinter group - a group that attacked Nat King Cole on stage, that abducted and castrated Judge Edward Aaron and poured turpentine on his wounds before leaving him abandoned, people who were sentenced to twenty years but given parole under governor Wallace. The same Carter quit this Klan group after shooting two members ... shortly before becoming a speechwriter for the governor who he never personally met. In 1970 - Wallace had become more "liberal" in the meantime - Carter ran against him for governor of Alabama and after losing demonstrated with signs reading "Wallace is a bigot" and "Free our white children" (via and via).
Proponents of civil rights, such as John Lewis and Martin Luther King, highly criticised the Inaugural Address. The same year, in his "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, King referred to Wallace by saying:
"I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words 'interposition' and 'nullification' - one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." (via)

In the mid/late 1960s, Wallace changed his views on segregation; he called his inaugural speech the "biggest mistake" he had made:
"I didn't write those words about segregation now, tomorrow and forever. I saw them in the speech written for me and planned to skip over them. But the wind-chill factor was 5 below zero when I gave that speech. I started reading just to get it over and read those words without thinking. I have regretted it all my life." (via)
In 1972, Wallace was shot five times while campaigning which left him paralysed (via). A few years later, he apologised to black civil rights leaders for his actions and explained that he had then sought power and glory instead of love and forgiveness which he realised he needed most. In 1979, he said: "I was wrong. those days are over, and they ought to be over." During his last term as governor (1983-1987), he made "a record number of black appointments to state positions" (via)
"I have learned what suffering means. In a way that was impossible, I think I can understand something of the pain black people have come to endure. I know I contributed to that pain, and I can only ask your forgiveness."
George Wallace, Address to the Montgomery Dexter Avenue Baptist Church (where King pastored in the 1950s), 1979
Wallace expressed his conversion more than once and in 1987, he reconciled with civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and prayed with him (via).

A few days after Wallace passed away, civil rights leader John Lewis wrote:

(...) A showdown was inevitable. Much of the bloodshed in Alabama occurred on Governor Wallace's watch. Although he never pulled a trigger or threw a bomb, he created the climate of fear and intimidation in which those acts were deemed acceptable.
Although we had long been adversaries, I did not meet Governor Wallace until 1979. During that meeting, I could tell that he was a changed man; he was engaged in a campaign to seek forgiveness from the same African-Americans he had oppressed. He acknowledged his bigotry and assumed responsibility for the harm he had caused. He wanted to be forgiven. (...)
When I met George Wallace, I had to forgive him, because to do otherwise -- to hate him -- would only perpetuate the evil system we sought to destroy.
George Wallace should be remembered for his capacity to change. And we are better as a nation because of our capacity to forgive and to acknowledge that our political leaders are human and largely a reflection of the social currents in the river of history. (...) (via)
"Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. . . . While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Photograph: George Wallace and Jimmy Dallas, Montgomery, Alabama, 31 July 1993

Excerpts from the 1963 inaugural speech (via):

"Let us send this message back to Washington by our representative who are with us today...that from this day we are standing up, and the heel of tyranny does not fit the neck of an upright man...that we intend to take the offensive and carry our fight for freedom across this nation, wielding the balance of poer we know we possess in the Southland....that WE, not the insipid bloc voters of some sections..will determine in the next election who shall sit in the White House of these United States....that from this day...from this hour...from this minute...we give the word of a race of honor that we will tolerate their boot in our face no longer....and let those certain judges put that in their opium pipes of power and smoke it for what it is worth. (...)
What I have said about segregation goes double this day...and what I have said to or about some federal judges goes TRIPLE this day. (...)
It (government) is a system that is the very opposite of Christ for it feeds and encourages everything degenerate and base in our people as it assumes the responsibilities that we ourselves should assume. Its pseudo-liberal spokesmen and some Harvard advocates have never examined the logic of its substitution of what it calls "human rights" for individual rights, for its propaganda play upon words has appeal for the unthinking. Its logic is totally material and irresponsible as it runs the full gamut of human desires...including the theory that everyone has voting rights without the spiritual responsibility of preserving freedom. Our founding fathers recognized those rights...but only within the frameworks of those spiritual responsibilities. But the strong, simple faith and sane reasoning of our founding fathers has long since been forgotten as the so-called "progressives" tell us that our Constitution was written for "horse and buggy" were the Ten Commandments.
Not so long ago men stood in marvel and awe at the cities, the building, the schools, the autobahns that the government of Hitler's Germany had built...just as centuries before they stood in wonder at Rome's building...but it could not stand...for the system that built it had rotted the souls of the builders...and in turn...rotted the foundation of what God meant that men should be. Today that same system on an international scale is sweeping the world. It is the "changing world" of which we are is called "new" and "liberal". It is as old as the oldest dictator. It is degenerate and decadent. As the national racism of Hitler's Germany persecuted a national minority to the whim of a natiomal the international racism of the liberals seek to persecute the international white minority to the whim of the international colored that we are footballed about according to the favor of the Afro-Asian bloc. But the Belgian survivors of the Congo cannot present their case to a war crimes commission...nor the Portuguese of Angola...nor the survivors of Castro...nor the citizens of Oxford, Mississippi. (...)
This nation was never meant to be a unit of one...but a united of the many (...). In united effort we were meant to live under this government...whether Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, or whatever one's denomination or religious belief...each respecting the others rights to a separate denomination...each, by working to develop his own, enriching the total of all our lives through united effort. And so it was meant in our political lives...whether Republican, Democrat, Prohibition, or whatever political party...each striving frim his separate political station...respecting the rights of others to be separate and work from within their political framework...and each separate political station making its contribution toour lives...
And so it was meant in our racial lives...each race, within its own framework has the freedom to ask for and receive deserved help from others of separate racial stations. This is the great freedom of our American founding fathers...but if we amalgamate into the one unit as advocated by the communist philosophers..then the enrichment of our lives...the freedom for our gone forever. We become, therefore, a mongrel unit of one under a single all powerful government...and we stand for everything...and for nothing.
The true brotherhood of America, of respecting the separateness of others.and uniting in effort..has been so twisted and distorted from its original concept that there is small wonder that communism is winning the world.
We invite the negro citizens of Alabama to work with us from his separate racial we will work with develop, to grow in individual freedom and enrichment. We want jobs and a good future for BOTH our races. We want to help the physically and mentally sich of BOTH races..the tubercular and the infirm. This is the basic heritage of my religion, of which I make full practice....for we are all the handiwork of God. (...)
And my prayer is that the Father who reigns above us will bless all the people of this great sovereign State and nation, both white and black.
I thank you.

photographs of George Wallace taken by Richard Avedon who thought his pictures were "lousy" and that he had turned Wallace into a caricature (via)  via and via and via and via

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Quoting Groucho Marx

"Getting older is no problem. you just have to live long enough."
Groucho Marx

"I must confess, I was born at a very early age."
Groucho Marx

photograph of Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx (1890-1977) by Richard Avedon via

Monday 6 August 2018

Narrative images: Mothers of Civil Rights Workers

The photograph was taken by Richard Avedon in New York on 15 July 1975. It shows Anne Schwerner, Fannie Lee Chaney and Carolyn Goodman, mothers of slain civil rights workers. Their sons Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were murdered on 21st of June 1964, known as the "Mississippi Burning murders". 41 years after the murders, one perpetrator was charged (via).

"The social paroxysms of the '60s changed, and darkened, Avedon's work. To a man so finely tuned to the Zeitgeist, how could they not? Photographing both civil-rights workers and segregationists in the South and, later, the antiwar movement, he ventured for the first time into political waters. At both Bazaar and Vogue, to which he moved in 1966, his editorial fashion work took on a brittle, sometimes critical edge: a shoot in Sicily is inspired by Antonioni's classic of ennui, "L'Avventura" and sends up the emptiness of high society. Three models in identical dresses fling themselves into the air in fits of manic laughter, an image of gleeful desperation. The Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton scandals are satirized in a witty mock-paparazzi scenario using Mike Nichols and Suzy Parker to play the press-hounded lovers." (via)

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photograph via

Friday 3 August 2018

Sun and Skin Cancer in the U.S.: Age, Gender, Ethnicity, and Their Intersection.

Natural and artificial ultraviolet light is a risk factor for all types of skin cancer, the majority of melanoma cases are caused by ultraviolet exposure. One sunburn during childhood can double chances of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Five or more sunburns between 15 and 20 increase the risk by 80%.

In the U.S., incidence of basal cell carcinoma increased by 145% from 1976 to 1984 and from 2000 to 2010, squamous cell carcinoma by 263% over the two periods. The greatest increase of both types was observed among women. Melanoma rates doubled from 1982 to 2011. Invasive melanoma is the fifth most common cancer for men and the sixth most common one for women. Before the age of 50, melanoma incidence rates are higher in women, by age 65, rates are twice as high in men. In 2018, it is estimated that 9.320 deaths are caused by melanoma, 5.990 men and 3.330 women.
Men with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, women of developing leukemia, breast, kidney and lung cancer.
“Sunscreen is a category of lotion and so putting on sunscreen is equivalent to admitting you’re the sun’s bitch. In fact, thanks in part to the stupid idea that lotion carries girl cooties, men are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer. So, fine, dudes, here’s some sunscreen for men. For christ’s sake.” Wade
Nonmelanomia skin cancer incidence rates increase particularly in people who are under 40 years of age. Men older than 79 have a risk of developing melanoma that is three times higher than women of the same age.
Incidence rate in white women younger than 44 has increased 6.1% annually (probably because of indoor tanning). Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer in women between 15 and 29 years of age. From 1970 to 2009, incidence of melanoma increased 800% in women age 18 to 39.

The annual incidence rate of melanoma in white U.S.-Americans is 26:100.000, 4:100.000 in Hispanics and 1:100.000 in black US-Americans. Skin cancer in black US-Americans is diagnosed in later stages when treatment is more difficult and patients are less likely to survive melanoma. They are also prone to develop skin cancer in areas that are usually not exposed to the sun, such as the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.

More/Via: American Academy of Dermatology

- photographs of Coney Island by Leon Levinstein (1910-1988) via and via and via and via
- Interesting: The Sun is Out: Risk of skin cancer in different groups