Tuesday 31 December 2019

Farewell 2019

May the year to come bless us with patience, tolerance, and a sense of humour to deal with the passionately misinformed and with haters, with incorrigible racists, short-sighted ageists, ignorant ableists, inveterate sexists, narrow-minded homophobes, and islamophobes. Live long and prosper, dear subscribers, I wish you all the best for 2020!

Saturday 28 December 2019

Photographing Freaks: Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus (1923-1971) was a US-American photographer known for capturing "the grand mélange of humanity" (via), for photographing "people on the fringes of society" (via). Since she became famous, her gaze has been celebrated and criticised: sideshow performers, nudists, dwarfs, transgender sex workers were the subjects she felt drawn to.

"But Arbus’s images in “Untitled” are, at first glance, unsettling. Why did she choose to train her lens repeatedly on people who were so vulnerable? There’s baggage to the work, knowing that she often proclaimed her love for photographing “freaks”—a caustic word to use today, though Arbus seemed to do so with affection. Critic Susan Sontag famously railed against Arbus’s practice in her 1977 collection of essays, On Photography, saying her work was “based on distance, on privilege, on a feeling that what the viewer is asked to look at is really other.”
“Othering” is a term we are especially cautious about today. Arbus did come from privilege—she was the middle child in a well-to-do Manhattan family that earned its wealth from her grandfather’s luxury department store. “One of the things I felt I suffered from as a kid was I never felt adversity,” Arbus herself once said. She sought out people with unusual stories, and titled them as such: Mexican Dwarf in his Hotel Room, N.Y.C 1970, and A Jewish Giant at Home with his Parents, in the Bronx, N.Y., 1970. Even in her portraits of people who were not marginalized, such as her widely known picture of twin girls, Identical twins, Roselle, N.J. (1966), she emphasized their strangeness. (...)
It wasn’t until a 2003 retrospective of Arbus’s work that many of her images, letters, and journal entries were made public. They clarified that she was empathetic, not voyeuristic, a word that continues to trail her legacy. (...)
Though there is always a power hierarchy between photographer and subject—a photographer is seeking honesty and vulnerability when the camera is raised—there is a difference between a photographer who takes the shot and leaves, and one who stays. Arbus was one to stay, giving her time and respect, and building a rapport with the people she photographed. She met Eddie Carmel, the Jewish giant, a decade before she snapped the now-famous image of him and his parents; she was invited to celebrate the birthday of a prostitute whom she photographed in bed, in front of a cake. And, late in her life, she returned to the residences of “Untitled” again and again, taking portraits that suggested friendship and closeness between her and her subjects."
Jacqui Palumbo

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photograph by Diane Arbus via

Monday 23 December 2019

Quoting Joker

“The worst part about having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

- image (Joaquin Phoenix, Joker, 2019) via

(partly) interesting read:
- Joker's depiction of mental illness, The Guardian, link
- Impressive dramatic performances aside, Independent, link
- 'Joker' makes an explicit connection, Business Insider, link
- Trying to diagnose the 'Joker', Insider, link

Friday 20 December 2019

Prejudice and Self-Perceived vs Psychometric Intelligence

Results of a study carried out in Belgium (n=183, adults from the general community) revealed that the link between ethnic prejudice and intelligence differs depending on whether intelligence is self-assessed (participants were asked to estimate their intelligence on a scale ranging from 0 to 100) or actual, i.e. psychometrically assessed. In fact, being intelligent (which undermines prejudice) vs believing to be intelligent (and probably perceiving the world in terms of superiority and inferiority) had opposite correlations with subtle racism.

Our results revealed opposite relationships: whereas individuals who scored higher (vs. lower) on an intelligence test showed lower levels of racial prejudice, individuals who perceived themselves as being more intelligent compared to others showed higher levels of racial prejudice. (...) The present results indicate that being more intelligent is related with less racial prejudice, but judging that one is more intelligent than others is related with more racial prejudice. (De Keersmaecker et al., 2017)
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- De Keersmaecker, J., Onraet, E., Lepouttre, N. & Roets, A. (2017). The opposite effects of actual and self-perceived intelligence on racial prejudice. Personality and Individual Differences, 112, 136-138.
- photograph by Magnum photographer Erich Lessing (1923-2018) (Cesenatico, 1960) via

Thursday 19 December 2019

White vs Black Offender + Length of Prison Sentence

According to an analysis of cases in which offenders were sentenced in the U.S. between 2011 and 2016, 1) black male offenders received sentences that were on average 19.1% longer than White male offenders sentenced for similar reasons, 2) black male offenders were 21.2% less likely to receive a non-government sponsored downward departure or variance and in case they did, their sentences were 16.8% longer than white male offenders' departure or variance, 3) in case of violence in an offender's criminal history black male offenders received sentences which were on average 20.4% longer than those of similar white male offenders, 4) female offenders received shorter sentences than white male offenders no matter what ethnicity (United State Sentencing Commission, 2017).

photograph by Vivian Maier via

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Bank Robber Man (Lenny Kravitz, 2001)

"While on a break from the recording studio on Friday, Lenny Kravitz found himself handcuffed and questioned by Miami police searching for a bank robber.
Kravitz (...) was walking to the gym with his trainer when the two were surrounded by police cars and a canine unit. The rocker matched the description of a man who had just robbed a nearby bank -- black, unshaven, with an afro and wearing green pants and a T-shirt. Kravitz was unshaven, wearing olive khakis and was not carrying ID."

"(...) The singer said that since some of the officers who detained him were Latino, he is unsure whether he was a victim of racial profiling. "You think that [there was racial profiling] on one hand, and on the other hand you say, 'Well, I did fit the description somewhat,' " Kravitz said. "I'm kind of torn between [the two]. But what I need to find out is why I was cuffed first."
MTV, 2000

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Bank Robber Man

I was walking down the street today
Just as somebody blew the doors off of the B of A
Just then I head them call my name
As I was thrown against the car
I was being framed

All units we've got our man
We've got the bank robber man
We don't need no reason
You're going in the can
You look like the bank robber man
I think you misunderstand
Do you think that I am the one that did it
Just because I'm tan?
Just then the officer at hand said
I don't give a damn that you are in a rock and roll band

All units we've got our man
We've got the bank robber man
We don't need no reason
You're going in the can
You look like the bank robber man

Just tell me what's going on ?
Can you tell me what I did wrong ?
Does busting me make you feel strong ?
Make you feel strong

All units we've got our man
We've got the bank robber man
We don't need no reason
You're going in the can
You look like the bank robber man

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Lenny Kravitz on YouTube:

::: It Ain't Over Til It's Over: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Fly Away: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Fields of Joy: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Are You Gonna Go My Way: LISTEN/WATCH
::: I Belong to You: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Circus: LISTEN/WATCH
::: I'll Be Waiting: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Can't Get You Off My Mind: LISTEN/WATCH
::: I Build This Garden for Us: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Stand by My Woman: LISTEN/WATCH

Related posting:
::: Mr Cab Driver & Black And White America: LINK

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photograph via, lyrics via

Monday 16 December 2019

Girl + Black: Adultification Bias

According to research findings, adults view Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers - as young as five to nine years old. The results align with lived experiences (Blake & Epstein, 2019).

The main findings:

Black girls routinely experience adultification bias.
Adultification is linked to harsher treatment and higher standards for black girls in school.
Adults have less empathy for black girls than their white peers, who are viewed as more innocent and in need of protection and comforting.
Negative stereotypes of black women are mapped onto black girls, which can lay the foundation for adultification bias.
Adults attempt to enforce traditional white norms of femininity on black girls.
Adultification bias can lead educators to treat black girls in developmentally inappropriate ways.
Socialised adultification contributes to adultification bias.

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- Blake, J. J. & Epstein, R. (2019). Listening to Black Women and Girls: Lived Experiences of Adultification Bias. Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, link
- photograph by Vivian Maier via

Friday 13 December 2019

Politeness. A Reflection of Cultural Norms.

Language is a reflection of culture and accepted cultural norms, polite conducted and interaction is inseparable to culture. Polite interaction takes on many forms in the way people interact, not only by the spoken word but also by the unspoken messages portrayed by behaviour, body language, eye contact and facial expressions. People from the same country speaking the same language and same cultural background have a basic common shared ideology and value system defining general accepted norms and rules of conduct to be followed. Accepted norms of behaviour and linguistic appropriateness in one culture are not necessarily acceptable in another culture. What is considered polite in one cultural society may be considered impolite in another. (...)

Politeness in any given society is conducted within a system of acceptable social behaviour and social linguistic cultural norms that govern the way in which citizens interact. (...) Accepted behaviour and politeness within a society and sharing the same value system and cultural understanding is part of the fibre of society. Rules within a language community guide behaviour and communication within the society; (not only guiding what people do or say but, equally important what people do not do or say). (...)

Politeness is a fundamental part of culture which shapes human behaviour within a society. Goode et al. (2000) explains this politeness and behaviour as an ‘integrated pattern of human behaviour that includes thoughts, communications, languages, practices, beliefs, values, customs, courtesies, rituals, manners of interacting and roles, relationships and expected behaviours of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group; and the ability to transmit the above to succeeding generations.’ This view illustrates the importance of politeness in language teaching, culture and politeness is mirrored and represented in all the above human interactions, as a result politeness can not be considered a separate isolated component of language learning. The spectrum of politeness affects all human behaviour and interactions, therefore ‘linguistic competence alone is not enough for learners of a language to be competent in that language’ (Krasner, 1999). Language learners need to understand culture, context and politeness to be able to function and communicate appropriately in the target language. (...)

excerpts taken from O'Sullivan (2007)

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- O'Sullivan, W. (2007). A study on politeness teaching to English learners in China. The International Journal of Language Society and Culture, 23, 47-52.
- photograph (Elswick Kids, 1978) by Tish Murtha via

Thursday 12 December 2019

Women Wearing Swimsuits and Performing in Math

Fredrickson et al. (1998) tested the hypothesis that self-objectification diminishes math performance (n = 82 undergraduate students at the University of Michigan, 42 women and 40 men). Students completed the Self-Objectification Questionnaire, their tendency to body shame was measured, as well as their feelings associated with trying on swimwear; they were given a challenging math test, as well as sweets.

Female participants were randomly assigned to two experimental conditions: trying on a one-piece swimsuit or a V-neck jumper, male participants either wore a swim trunk or a crew neck jumper. In all cases, they did so alone in a dressing rom where they were asked to look at themselves in the full-length mirror and afterwards complete all questionnaires mentioned before. Then, they were given sweets and told to eat as much as they wanted and fill out another questionnaire.

Results show that only in the case of women trying on a swimsuit (i.e. manipulating the state of self-objectification) produced more body shame than trying on a jumper. Self-objectification, again, led to body shame in women. And most interestingly, women performed worse on the math test when wearing a swimsuit than when wearing a jumper (Fredrickson et al., 1998).
In 2004, Hebl, King and Lin replicated the study with 400 undergraduate students (with a focus on gender and ethnicity) and supported the findings that "sellf-objectification serves as a mechanism through which the experience of wearing a swimsuit affected psychological and behavioral outcomes", that women had lower self-esteem and body image than men. However, they added: "All individuals can be vulnerable to the consequences of self-objectification."

- Fredrickson, B. L., Noll, S. M., Roberts, T.-A., Quinn, D. M. & Twenge, J. M. (1998). That Swimsuit Becomes You: Sex Differences in Self-Objectification, Restrained Eating, and Math Performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(1), 269-284.
- Hebl, M., King, E. B. & Lin, J. (2004). The Swimsuit Becomes Us All: Ethnicity, Gender and Vulnerability to Self-Objetcification. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(10), link
- images of Alain Delon and Romy Schneider (La Piscine, 1969) via and via and via

Tuesday 10 December 2019

The -ism Series (35): Environmental Racism

"Environmental racism is racial discrimination in environmental policy-making and enforcement of regulations of laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of color for toxic waste facilities, the official sanctioning of the presence of life threatening poisons and pollutants for communities of color, and the history of excluding people of color from leadership of the environmental movement."
Chavis cited in Holifield (2001)

We strongly believe that the actions that led to the poisoning of Flint’s water and the slow response resulted in the abridgement of civil rights for the people of Flint. We are not suggesting that those making decisions related to this crisis were racists, or meant to treat Flint any differently because it is a community of color. Rather, the response is the result of implicit bias and the history of systemic racism that was built into the foundation of Flint.
Arthur Horwitz
Environmental racism means that ethnic minority groups are burdened disproportionally by both decision-making processes and distributive patterns (Holifield, 2001). Examples are locating polluting facilities mainly in communities of colour and introducing environmental laws that are racist in their implementation and application (Lazarus, 2000).

A report published back in 1987 found that ethnicity was "the predominant factor related to the presence of hazardous wastes in residential communities throughout the United States", even "the most significant determinant of the location of hazardous waste facilities" (Godsil, 1991). Things do not seem to have changed as study after study indicate the disproportionate risks from pollution ethnic minorities face. According to a report published in 2018, "people of colour" and people in poverty "are exposed to more fine particulate matter", a carcinogen and contributor to lung conditions, heart attacks, asthma, low birth weights, high blood pressure, and premature deaths. The more an area is segregated, the higher the levels of exposure (via).

Reasons discussed are, for instance, economic ones like locating facilities where it is the least costly to build and maintain - which happens to be in so-called communities in colour - to the residents' economic powerlessness and their limited economic ability to move to other residential areas. Minority groups are, in addition, usually politically weak and cannot conduct campaigns against the companies' decisions successfully. Neither are they sufficiently represented in governement (Fisher, 1994).

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- Fisher, M. R. (1994). On the Road from Environmental Racism to Environmental Justice. Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law Digital Repository, 5(2), 449-478, link
- Godsil, R. D. (1991). Remedying Environmental Racism. Michigan Law Review, 90(2), link
- Holifield, R. (2001). Defining Environmental Justice and Environmental Racism. Urban Geography, 22(1), 78-90.
- Lazarus, R. J. (2000). "Environmental Racism! That's What It Is." Georgetown University Law Center, link
- photograph of siblings Julie, Antonio, and India Abron collecting their daily allowance of bottled water from Fire Station 3, Flint, Michigan (by Wayne Lawrence, National Geographic) via

Monday 9 December 2019

Evil, Sophisticated, British: The British Accent in Animated Films

"So a disturbing pattern begins to emerge. In the casting of big budget Hollywood movies the rule is clear: bad guys British, good guys anything but. (...) British actors have turned up regularly, predictably, even inevitably, as sophisticated bad guys in Hollywood movies" (Barry Norman), symbolising an "evil genius that can charm your mother over dinner then blow up the world after dessert" (Arwa Mahdawi).

It is a depiction or representation of language, not a sample of it. It is a depiction of what the director/write/producer ‘thinks' about language use in the real world, Hollywood view of the linguistic world.
Schiffman (1998)
Accents establish settings and convey elements of characterisation. They are, in fact, a tool for constructing characters (Azad, 2009), stereotypical characters:
Accent is a potent cue to social categorization and stereotyping. An important agent of accent-based stereotype socialization is the media. (...) Results provide clear evidence that American media’s portrayals of different accents are biased, reflecting pervasive societal stereotypes.
Dragojevic, Giles & Sink (2016)
According to Lippi-Green, "animated features teach children to ethnocentrically discriminate by portraying bad characters with foreign accents" (Wenke, 1998). More than in live-action, animated films show the tendency to use language "as a quick way to build character and reaffirm stereotype" (Lippi-Green, 1997). In children's animated television, villains consistently use non-American accents (Dobrow & Gidney, 1998); there has been an "explosion" in the use of British accents in a stereotypcial way (Wenke, 1998).
It is first observably true that somehow, children learn not only how to use variation in their own language, but also how to interpret social variation in their own language, but also how to interpret social variation in the language of others. They do this with or without exposure to television and film, but in the current day, few children grow up without this exposure.
Lippi-Green (1997)

A specific example of a Disney character who portrays an accent obvious to the viewing public through the use of markers and stereotypes is Scar in the movie The Lion King. Scar is the brother to Mufasa, the strong and noble Lion King. Scar's character stands in direct contrast to that of Mufasa's noble character as he is an envious, scheming lion who plans the murder of his brother and exile of his nephew Simba, the heir to the throne. Scar is drawn to be skinnier and darker than his brother. Differences in animation are thus our first clue into the nature of the two characters. The story takes place in Africa, and the lions are brothers. It would appear then that both brothers should speak with the same accent, and that it should be derived from some African dialect, but this is distinctly not the case. The voice over for Mufasa is provided by James Earl Jones, who speaks with what Lippi-Green calls a mainstream US English (MUSE) accent. In contrast, Jeremy Irons voice over for Scar character speaks with a distinctly British accent. This British accent is very different from the standard English accents of the other characters in the movies, and helps children to distinguish his character.
Wenke (1998)
Based on Lippi-Green's analysis of 24 animated Disney films (i.e. all availabe full-length films available at the time) and their 371 characters, general/standardised American has increased at the expense of British accents, and Received Pronunciation has decreased clearly (from 22% to 14.2%), so has regional British accent (from 11% to 3.5%). In other words, "General American has gained a significantly (sic) amount of ground, whereas the other accent groups have decreased accordingly" leading to a reduction of diversity of accents and enhancing US-American standardisation. Correlations between the traits of the characters and the accents they speak can be observed. Heroes speak general American (even Robin Hood spoke American English in Disney's animated film), Received Pronunciation - which as "a long history of being used with sinister characters" -  is used by characters playing a peripheral role, a villain, an aide to a villain or an unsympathetic character. The very reason may be that Received Pronunciation is associated with posh, cold, distant persons and hence seen as "suitable to sophisticated villainous characters". Interestingly, Americans at the same time see British English positively (Sønnesyn, 2011).
Since early as 1959, sociolinguists have tended to regard as almost a truism the notion that speaker of a perceived prestige dialect such as Received Pronunciation in Great Britain are judged by nonprestige dialect speakers to be on the one hand educated, intelligent, competent, industrious, and of a higher class socioeconomically yet on the other hand less trustworthy and kind, as well as less socially attractive, sincere, and good-humored.
Davis & Houck (1992)
Scar using a British accent, for instance, highlights "his snobbish mannerism and his feelings of intellectual superiority", representing intelligence, breeding and refinement, but also class-envy on the part of US-Americans towards the British or English. Similarly, Jaffar (in Aladdin) speaks with a British accent (Wenke, 1998).
"speakers of British English are portrayed dichotomously as either the epitome of refinement and elegance or as the embodiment of effete evil." This crystallizes the love-hate part of the two nations’ special relationship. Considering other studies have shown that American speakers might have a mild inferiority complex about their own dialects compared to British English, this is telling. (via)
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- Azad, S. B. (2009). Lights, Camera, Accent. Examining Dialect Performance in Recent Children's Animated Films. Washington: Thesis, link
- Davis, L. M. & Houch, C. (1992). Can She Be Prestigious and Nice at the Same Time? Perceptions of Female Speech in Hoosierdom. American Speech, 67(2), 115-122.
- Dobrow, J. R. & Gidney, C. L. (1998). The Good, the Bad, and the Foreign: The Use of Dialect in Children's Animated Television. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 557, Children and Television, 105-119.
- Dragojevic, M., Mastro, D., Giles, H. & Sink, A. (2016). Silencing nonstandard speakers: A content analysis of accent portrayals on American primetime television. Language in Society, 45, 59-85.
- Lippi-Green, R. (1997). English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. London & New York: Routledge, link
- Reinacher, L. (2016). Discrimination in a Land Far, Far Away - Stereotyped Dialects in Animated Children's Films. Kiel: Thesis, link
- Sønnesyn, J. (2011). The use of accents in Disney's animated feature films 1995-2009: a sociolinguistic study of the good, the bad and the foreign. Thesis: University of Bergen, link
- Wenke, E. (1998). Accents in children's animated featiures (sic) as a device for teaching children to ethnocentrically discriminate. Language and Popular Culture, link
- photographs of Jeremy Irons by Michel Comte, 1990 via and via

Friday 6 December 2019

Quoting Pam Grier

"Well who's black and what is a black person?"
Pam Grier

"Does a black person make them an African American? No. There are Hispanics that are very, very dark skinned so the word has lost its meaning, it's not a very concise or proper word to use even today and it wasn't then."
Pam Grier

"There are things we have to do to protect ourselves in a climate where people are facilitating hatred and discrimination. This support of white supremacists reminded me of the ’60s and Jim Crow and all we left behind. Within Los Angeles and the industry, people don’t see it, but I live in the Heartland and I see it. I’m very community minded. I’m an activist. And then I hurt more and I cry more when I hear people calling me a nigger to my face. What did I do to deserve you to say that to me? When I’m helping probably more white people than black people right now.
Well, I won’t let it hurt me. It’s gonna take a whole lot more than that to hurt me, after all I’ve been through."
Pam Grier

"When Roger Corman was looking for women to do his biker and nurse movies, he looked for women who were rebels, outsiders, who could hold their own. They hadn’t used a woman of color yet, but Roger being a filmmaker with a foothold in European culture, where women had a bit more equality and freedom in society, he brought that element to his movie making."
Pam Grier

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Interview excerpts:

Coffy, Foxy Brown and their ilk were exploitative, but arguably also progressive. As a heroine enacting revenge fantasies, your influence on modern films like Kill Bill is now obvious, yet in the early ‘ 70s these movies were labeled as racist blaxploitation by black activist groups. There was a political backlash.

"The only political backlash was that white producers were making films about black life. Well, then why don’t the black producers get together and produce them? There were very few. So maybe they felt disenfranchised. But I would go to them and say, “What can we do? How can we leverage?” They didn’t have the projects; they didn’t really know what to do. And so I said, “I’m trying to build enough leverage and find an audience.” With these exploitation films, they were about the worst life in the community, good versus evil — these were just regular things that go on. I said, “We can’t solve our community problems until we show them. And if we show them and you get embarrassed enough, maybe you’ll change and do something about it.” And that’s when they’d sit there and look at me. I said, “Stop having communities eat their own, and maybe we can write about great things. I’m trying to get the Dorothy Dandridge story done, but I can’t get it done. We don’t have the studios. If you want to build black studios where we can make films about black life, build them."

Hollywood’s version of black life is still mostly rooted in stereotyped characters and white savior movies like The Blind Side. Forty years later there are still few black studio movies.

"It is a business, and mainstream movies are made for the audience that supports the business. That’s all it is. Theater is theater; they’re two totally different dynamics. When it comes to filmmaking, you have to understand it’s a business. They don’t have to put black people in the movies."

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photograph via

Thursday 5 December 2019

The -ism Series (35): Femonationalism

The term "femonationalism" was coined by Sara Farris and refers to the phenomenon of European nationalist, right-wing parties advancing "their anti-Islam agendas in the name of women's rights" despite their traditionally antifeminist politics and "their lack of concern with elaborating concrete policies of gender equality (and occasionally LGBT rights) within an otherwise xenophobic rhetoric". The message is that Muslim males are a danger for Europe because of their oppressive treatment of women and that Muslim women are victims of non-western patriarchy. In fact, Muslim men are instrumentalised "in order to advance their own political objectives" (Farris, 2017).

(...) by encouraging a rhetoric of division, or a Manichean splitting of the political and ideological debate into one counterposing "US" (white, European, western, Christian, civilized, "women-friendly") to "Them" (nonwhite, non-European, non-western, Muslim, uncivilized, misogynist Others), right-wing nationalist parties have everything to gain.
Farris (2017)
This is a classical dilemma, when anti-sexism is played out against anti-racism. It’s something Black feminists in the US wrote a lot about in the 1960s and 1970s and continue to debate: how can we denounce sexism in our communities, when we know that could then be used to attack Black men? There is no easy answer. We need to support in every way the possibility for women of any community to denounce sexism wherever it presents itself. The question we should ask is: are we really enabling this? How can we support the struggle of these women, in this context of incredibly harsh and rising Islamophobia? The struggle against racism and sexism must go hand in hand.
Sara Farris
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- Farris, S. R. (2017). In the Name of Women's Rights. The Rise of Femonationalism. Durham: Duke University Press.
- photograph (Afghan women walking along a street in Kabul, 1962) via

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Ageism and Health

Adults aged 50 plus (n=7731) living in England were interviewed and asked to complete questionnaires in order to analyse cross-sectional associations between ageism and health. Compared to persons who did not perceive age discrimination, those who did were more like to report poor health, to have coronary heart disease, chronic lung disease, arthritis, long-standing illness, and depressive symptoms (Jackson et al, 2019).

- Jackson, S. E., Hackett, R. A. & Steptoe, A. (2019). Associations between age discrimination and health and wellbeing: cross-sectional and prospective analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The Lancet, link
- photograph by Vivian Maier (Miami Beach, 1963) via

Saturday 30 November 2019

Bob Adelman's Understanding of Patriotism

Patriotism. It seemed to me that the greatest failing of the country had been its been its treatment of black people. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, the country was really quite paralyzed on the race mater. The court had spoken in 1954 but Congress was controlled by Dixiecrats, and no president in 100 years had said that segregation was wrong. I think that some people think that segregation was just some way that the races were separated. But, in fact, it was an organized system of terror. If a black person in the Deep South wanted to vote or use segregated accommodations or many other things... if he defied the customs, he ran the risk of losing his job or getting attacked, either by the authorities or by the Klan. It was awful and so un-American, really. These were our brothers and sisters who were being mistreated. I thought that the race question was the biggest unsolved problem of America. So that’s why I say it was patriotism.
(Bob Adelman on what drew him to document the civil rights movement)

Growing up in New York, were you surrounded by other people who felt the same way you did?

In the North, I think there was a general feeling that things like lynchings and poll taxes and discrimination were bad things. Though they were sometimes practiced in the North. Discrimination could be very ugly there, too. Especially, if a black family after WWII bought a house in an old white neighborhood. They could be terrorized or burned down. Racism wasn’t just a southern problem. But I guess I came from idealistic people. My mother, who I lived with in the suburbs of New York City — I remember as a little boy, it was raining and I was complaining because I couldn’t go outside, and so she said, “Oh, but it’s good for the farmers.” Which would not be a typical response. I’m not religious, but I guess I’m culturally Jewish and I certainly was very much inspired by the prophets. We’d just seen the Holocaust, so the idea of any kind of racial stigmatization was awful.

Did you feel like your photography and involvement in the movement was subversive?

No, I don’t think so. Obviously, the powers that be — particularly in the South, the local government and police — their job was to enforce segregation. And many, many people in the South supported it. In the context of challenging local authorities, it was subversive. I was regularly arrested for photographing, sometimes it was a good thing. Sometimes when people were about to get ugly or violent, getting arrested was a better alternative. Gunnar Myrdal in “The American Dilemma” said segregation was so un-American and that as soon as most Americans actually understood what segregation was, it would fall away. And in a profound sense, that what the civil rights movement did. It revealed to the country just what the underpinnings of segregation were, which were the systematic suppression of participation in public life.

Your website makes a poignant statement about your work: “His subjects knew which side he was on. And he stayed the course.” How did you or do you view the role of photojournalism during that time period? How did photography — and in your case, impassioned photography — interact with the movement itself?

I think that all art is a way in which we hold up experience and look at it. Photography does it in a very immediate way. I hoped that photographs of mine would help change opinions and understandings. That we would, by our concerted efforts, show how wrong and despicable these practices were. And, in fact, thats what did happen. The country was frozen, but when the students protested [in Birmingham in 1963], I thought that it was sheer genius. By taking their bodies — our bodies — and putting them where they were forbidden to go, that was the lever that would really break the system. I had great faith in that tactic and of course the rightness of breaking these barriers.

How long did you follow the movement as a photographer?

I started taking pictures in the ‘50s on my own, and I started volunteering with CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) in 1961. And I guess by ‘63 I’d say, my pictures starting appearing in papers quite regularly, like Newsweek and Life.

Were you surrounded by other photographers early on, or were you mostly surrounded by activists?

Oh, I had friends in the movement and friends who were photographers. Our great inspiration was always Martin Luther King, who I came to know. I was very involved in the movement. Rudy Lombard was one of my close friends. Dorothea Lange was a mentor of mine. I was friendly with [civil rights photographer] Bruce Davidson. Alfred Eisenstaedt said photographers are like spiders, they don’t hang out with each other. But I had photo friends, and artists — Jim Rosenquist, the painter, Larry rivers.

What is one of your most memorable moments following the movement from the South to Washington?

I took the iconic photo of Martin Luther King in Washington. That certainly was one of the greatest moments, for me, in American history! For 50 years I wondered why I was the only person there to capture that moment. I think by not being a member of the press, but being active in the movement, I was able to go up the stairs and get past the guards because they knew me. I had no press credentials. All the press were in the gallery, in front of the podium at the Lincoln Memorial. So the podium was on the steps and I guess because I wasn’t a press member, I was able to take the picture. That was the place to be.

I’d heard the doc speak so many times, and I knew he was going to say something amazing. The March on Washington was two things. One, it was a celebration because race was on the national agenda. Kennedy said segregation was wrong. What began as a movement of a few hundred or thousand was suddenly a mass movement. So we wanted to celebrate all that. But it was also a protest. Congress was still controlled by Dixiecrats. How they were going to be brought around was a very big “if.” When the doc delivered the Dream speech, I remember I put the camera down and was thinking that speech was so powerful and delivered in the shadow of Lincoln. His truth is marching on. I really believed that it was possible that Congress would somehow come around. The momentum would be very difficult to ignore.

Another moment was when I took the Birmingham photographs of the water hosing, which were very symbolic. Black bodies were being hosed by white firemen. In the past, when the authorities would hose people, they’d just run away. But this was a different time. Instead of being intimidated and frightened, they gathered and stood up to the hoses. It became emblematic of what was going on. Terror was going to be resisted and not given in to. I gave that photo to the doc, and he looked at it and he said it was startling that out of such pain was such beauty.

What do you hope is the impact of showcasing these photographs today?

I hope the show is a toolkit for young people on how to go about transforming things. People need to be trained and organized and have stated goals. In order to bring about change, a lot of work goes into getting other people together and having demonstrations and picketing and hanging posters. People’s right to peacefully protest is one of the most American parts of the Constitution.

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- interview excerpts via
- photographs by (People's Wall, Worlds's Fair, New York, 1965) and of Bob Adelman via and via

Friday 29 November 2019

STEM, Gender, and Stereotypes

"Women have been found to be under-represented in fields where it is believed that innate talent is the main requirement for success and where women are stereotyped as not possessing this talent."
UNESCO (2017:43)

Various reasons are considered when discussing gender inequalities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Self-selection bias is seen as the major reason for girls not considering STEM professions since they believe they would be incompatible with their gender. Girls encounter explicit and implicit STEM-related gender stereotypes throughout the socialisation process; two stereotypes prevail: Boys are better at maths and science and engineering careers are masculine domains. These stereotypes are internalised but even if not, having people around them who hold such beliefs can undermine the girls'confidence, performance, and intention to pursue a STEM career. Often, parents (particularly mothers) can reinforce negative stereotypes about girls in STEM and discourage their daughters. Similarly, (female) peers who see STEM subjects as inappropriate for women have a discouraging effect. Teachers play a crucial role, too. In one study, they were found to be "the only significant predictor of girls' interest and confidence in science". 
(UNESCO, 2017)

Related posting:
::: Women, Maths & Stereotype Threat: LINK

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- UNESCO (2017). Cracking the code: Girls' and Women's Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). LINK
- photograph of Iranian women before the Islamic Revolution by A. Abbas/Magnum Photos via

Thursday 28 November 2019

Dutch Masters Revisited

Museums in the Netherlands have started ditching historical terms and adding portraits of black people to what was formerly "a sea of all white and mostly male faces" in order to "promote inclusion and social equity". Amsterdam Museum will no longer use the term "Dutch Golden Age" (via) to describe the Dutch Republic, a world power in the 17th century with a prosperous economy, and "a flourishing of art, culture and intellectual thought", a term that also "losses over the ugly realities of Dutch ascendancy" such as the involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade - about 600.000 enslaved Africans were traded by the Dutch (via).

“The Western Golden Age occupies an important place in Western historiography that is strongly linked to national pride, but positive associations with the term such as prosperity, peace, opulence, and innocence do not cover the charge of historical reality in this period. The term ignores the many negative sides of the 17th century such as poverty, war, forced labor, and human trafficking.”
Tom van der Molen

"We will continue to work with people in the city to uncover underexposed stories and perspectives of our shared history.”
Daniel Boffey

“We believe that the Golden Age is, in a way, the story of the winners, and it hides the colonial past of the country. It hides slavery, but also it covers up poverty more generally. Not everyone participated in the Golden Age, not at all.”
Margriet Schavemaker

“If you want to protect an open and democratic system, it will mean that you have to promote greater inclusion of what you understand as ‘Dutch,’” and that means telling new stories, and coming up with new terminologies. There is an implicit hierarchy built into many of the Dutch cultural institutions, and that has to be made explicit.”
Karwan Fatah-Black

“If you talk about the Golden Age, people think they know what that story is about. What we forget to tell is that it was only about 1 percent of society. People in Holland were stricken by poverty, there were internal wars going on, and on top of that there was slavery as well. The people in the Netherlands today are not just descendants of that 1 percent; they’re descendants of the 99 percent as well.”
Jörgen Tjon A. Fong

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photograph by Sandra Lousada (Rothko exhibition, 1961) via

Saturday 23 November 2019

"... stand up against the bullies ..."

"It's not mental to believe that most of us find racism disgusting and the many can easily outweigh the few with the smallest effort. Vote, be counted, stand up against the bullies (...)."
Ricky Wilson

::: Love's Not a Competition (but I'm Winning): LISTEN/WATCH
::: Coming Home: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Never Miss A Beat: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Falling Awake: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Good Days Bad Days: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Everything Is Average Nowadays: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Hole In My Soul: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Modern Way: LISTEN/WATCH
::: People Know How To Love One Another: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Every Day I Love You Less and Less: LISTEN/WATCH
::: We Stay Together: LISTEN/WATCH

photograph of the Kaiser Chiefs by Danny North via

Thursday 21 November 2019

Britpop. A (not so subtle) tribute.

"The genre of Britpop, with its assertion of Englishness, evolved at the same time that devolution was striking deep into the hegemonic claims of English culture to represent Britain. It is usually argued that Britpop, with its strident declarations of Englishness, was a response to the dominance of grunge. The contributors in this volume take a different point of view: that Britpop celebrated Englishness at a time when British culture, with its English hegemonic core, was being challenged and dismantled."
Joni Stratton

In the 1990s, Britpop, or the era of "Cool Britannia", became an important part of national identity. It re-branded Britain (via), music and lyrics were "uniquely British" (via).
“Cool Britannia” as an identity was established by the Government. In 1997, New Labour established a landmark victory and promoted themselves as a new start for a Britain that was fast becoming ravaged by unemployment and poverty. New Prime Minister Tony Blair attempted to build on his image by holding a reception at Downing Street for the great and the good on the British art and music scenes and both the Government and the media used the event to highlight the fact that the public should be proud of what was becoming established as a cultural high point for the arts in Britain. (via)
Blur, Oasis and Pulp were "The Holy Trinity of Britpop". While Oasis came from working class background and wrote songs about unemployment, dole checks, cigarettes, alcohol, and an absent father (via), and Pulp responded with "a certain romanticism of working-class culture" (via), Blur were billed as so-called "posh boys" from London with university education. Media, in fact, turned "the battle of the bands from a musical debate into a class war" (via) between the working-class northeners Oasis and the middle-class southerners Blur (via). Britpop finally became known for "highlighting working class Britain and bringing it to the forefront of national identity", blowing "against the repressive forces of political correctness, class division and petty snobbery". The dress code - baggy sports clothing, trainers and Parka jacket - were part of it (via).
Some critics say that the representations of British identity were not authentic and reinforcing "a nostalgic and chauvinist cultural turn which privileged whiteness and to a lesser extent maleness" and that Britpop was marketed by Tony Blair's New Labour (via). Others, again, speak of a proto-feminist movement coming out of Britpop (via) and point out that its representation of national identity was more complex and that non-white and non-English Britpop musicians were there but widely ignored in the academic critique (Lueders, 2016). One thing is clear, Britpop is fantastic. And, it is not really over since a great many bands in the post-Britpop era are influenced by it ... showing discontinuities but also continuities between post-Britpop and the first-generation Britpop (Collinson, 2010).

Britpop Selection:

::: The Bluetones: Slight Return LISTEN/WATCH
::: The La's: There She Goes LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Lightning Seeds: What If LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Boo Radleys: Wake Up Boo! LISTEN/WATCH
::: Travis: Tied to the 90s LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Charlatans: The Only One I Know LISTEN/WATCH
::: Supergrass: Going Out LISTEN/WATCH
::: Blur: The Universal LISTEN/WATCH
::: Oasis: Champagne Supernova LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Verve: Bitter Sweet Symphony LISTEN/WATCH
::: Super Furry Animals: Something 4 the Weekend LISTEN/WATCH
::: Pulp: Disco 2000 LISTEN/WATCH
::: Cast: Sandstorm: LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Lightning Seeds: What You Say LISTEN/WATCH
::: Oasis: Roll With It LISTEN/WATCH
::: Travis: Why Does It Always Rain on Me? LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Lightning Seeds: Sugar Coated Iceberg LISTEN/WATCH
::: Supergrass: Sun Hits the Sky LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Lightning Seeds: You Showed Me LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Verve: Lucky Man LISTEN/WATCH
::: Supergrass: Alright LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Lightning Seeds: Life's Too Short LISTEN/WATCH
::: Pulp: Babies LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Verve: Sonnet LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Lightning Seeds: All I Want LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Boo Radleys: Wish I Was Skinny LISTEN/WATCH
::: Echobelly: Great Things LISTEN/WATCH
::: The Lightning Seeds: Ready or Not LISTEN/WATCH

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- Collinson, I. (2010). Devopop: Pop-Englishness and Post-Britpop Guitar Bands. In A. Bennett & J. Stratton (eds.) Britpop and the English Music Tradition (163-178). London & New York: Routledge.
- Lueders, C. (2016). Britpop's Common People - National identity, popular music and young people in the 1990's. University of London: Doctoral Thesis, LINK
- photographs of Richard Ashcroft via and Damon Albarn via

Wednesday 20 November 2019

"The art world is simply not the liberal, progressive bastion that it imagines itself to be."

According to a study that looked at 26 art museums and institution in the US and an analysis of the global art market ranging from 2008 to 2018, only 2% of global art auction is spent on work by women. In addition, five artists make up 40.7% of these 2%, with Yayoi Kusama accounting for 25%. 11% of the art acquisitions for permanent collections were by women, i.e., 29.247 of 260.470 acquisitions.(via).

"The art world is simply not the liberal, progressive bastion that it imagines itself to be."
Helen Molesworth

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photograph (Picasso exhibition, Tate Gallery, 1960) via

Saturday 16 November 2019

Stereotyping - a Distancing Mechanism

"Stereotyping involves the representation and evaluation of others in ways that ratify and endorse unequal social relations. It does so by making such representations appear fixed and unchanging as well as in stark contrast to the identities of those who engage in and perpetuate them. Stereotypes diminish the social standing of those targeted, reducing them to a particular attribute or disposition that either demeans them or confines them to achievement only in association with this attribute or disposition. This acts as a distancing mechanism, radically separating those stereotyped from those among whom the stereotypes circulate and are reproduced. Stereotyping always occurs within a two-way, but one-sided relationship, and operates in favor of the existing status quo."
Pickering (2015)

Read the whole paper:
Pickering, M. (2015). Stereotyping and Stereotypes. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism: LINK

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photograph by the amazing Vivian Maier via

Friday 15 November 2019

Narrative images: Socialite Gathering (1964)

"At this socialite gathering in Dallas, the maid was just another piece of furniture." (Kelen, 2012). The photograph was taken by Bob Adelman in Texas, Dallas in 1964.

- Kelen, L. G. (2012). This Light of Ours. Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement. University Press of Mississippi
- photograph via

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Meet Me in Cannes

No, I won't be at the Cannes Film Festival, and I won't walk the red carpet, and tabloids won't be bothered about what I wear ... But I'll be on Campus International de Cannes where I will be talking about ethnic stereotypes in character design.

In the past years, I analysed stereotypical African and Asian characters in popular European comics and animated cartoons from the 1930s to the 21st century. One conclusion: Both African and Asian characters still represent "the Other", uncivilised, black monkey-like, and yellow buck-toothed people.

15 November 2019
Campus International de Cannes

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photograph of Annie Girardot in Cannes (1972) via

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Quoting Damon Albarn (II)

"I was looking through stuff not that long ago, and I found a front page of the Sun from the Britpop era. I’d written on a bit of it in Biro when I was doing Parklife: ‘Anglo-Saxistentalism’. I thought: ‘That’s weird – that’s what I’m talking about now.’ In the most crass form, we say we want our country back. But you need to know what your country is before you want it back. And part of that is understanding who we are. We’re Vikings. We’re Anglo-Saxons. We’re French, Belgian, Nigerian, Caribbean, Ghanian, Somalian, Pakistani. To say, ‘We’re just this’ seems ridiculous to me. That’s all. That’s my biggest problem with [Brexit]: don’t limit yourself, guys. I don’t think we can afford to have that attitude. We need to be very outward-looking."
Damon Albarn

Blur on YouTube:
::: There's No Other Way: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Chemical World: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Beetlebum: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Young and Lovely: LISTEN/WATCH
::: To the End: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Charmless Man: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Under the Westway: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Parklife: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Girls and Boys: LISTEN/WATCH
::: End of a Century: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Music is My Radar: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Lonesome Street: LISTEN/WATCH
::: She's So High: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Country House: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Stereotypes: LISTEN/WATCH

Related postings:
::: Quoting Damon Albarn: LINK
::: Hallelujah Money: LINK

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photograph via

Monday 4 November 2019

An Abstract. A Nice One. On Populism.

This paper posits four possible reasons there may exist a fundamental, non-incidental connection between populism and the rhetoric of bullshit, as defined by Frankfurt as speech whose truth value its speaker is indifferent towards:

1) “Bullshit as Sincerity”: Populists’ claim to authentically represent “the people” and their “folk” values, combined with their wholesale rejection of the intellectual class and their values, makes them value sincerity over accuracy, leading them to construct statements with little regard for their veracity;
2) “Bullshit as Symbolism”: populist communication is frequently primarily meant to convey symbolic, unarticulated messages, leading literal meaning to be overlooked;
3) “Bullshit as Partisanship”: populists’ audiences are likely to assess their claims as true regardless of content, giving populists incentive to be construct statements without regard for the truth;
4) “Bullshit as Unfalsifiability”: Populists regard as unfalsifiable a central claim – the exclusivity of their claim to popular representation - and will thus tend to bullshit whenever contradicting evidence arises.
Based on these connections, possible strategies for combatting bullshit propagated by populists is discussed.
(Green, 2019)

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- Green, A. (2019). Speaking Bullshit to Power: Populism and the Rhetoric of Bullshit; link
- photograph of preacher with bible in London's Speaker's Corner taken by Philip Wolmuth in 1993 via

Friday 1 November 2019

The Corner Shop Stereotype + Cornershop

"Few stereotypes are more enduring than that of the Asian shopkeeper. The image is that of a hard-working businessman with strong family loyalties and Thatcherite values, who makes a small fortune by exploiting every niche in the market. It is an image of success which politicians often hold up as proof of 'opportunity Britain' where even penniless immigrants can make it through hard graft and business flair. It is also, according to a new study, a myth." (via)

In their paper published in 1980, Aldrich et al. describe Asian shopkeepers in Britain as an economically segregated sector that serves "a socially segregated population" (Aldrich et al., 1980). The number of these shops started declining once the first generation of immigrants retired and their children were not willing to take over the family business saying, "I am not going to work 16-hour days in a corner shop for peanuts and get all that abuse from people who are no better than me, and in some cases are not as good." (via).
This picture of Asian entrepreneurs busily working towards their own self-defined goals and seemingly immune from the constraints imposed by the surrounding social environment is entirely consistent with a view which frequently underpins studies of Asian communities in Britain. In explaining Asian relationships with white society and especially the acute segregation of the two groups, many writers emphasise what might be termed the "principle of minority group autonomy". Segregation from the white majority, it is argued (or implied), should be seen not so much as a consequence of white rejection but rather as an expression of minority free choice.
Aldrich & McEvoy (1980:8)

In the 1990s, Asian bands started entering the British mainstream music industry, bands that were "extremely uncomfortable with the idea of using their Asianness to promote themselves" fearing that it would have a negative impact on how Asians were viewed by society and foster negative stereotypes (Hyder, 2004). One of them was Cornershop founded by Tjinder Singh. His parents had emigrated to England, "where he was born and raised in Wolverhampton, with a foot in both cultures. Sort of." The name of the band is an ironic comment on the British Asian corner shop stereotype.
I think it’s also an element of growing up outside those two cultures as well. I don’t consider myself either one of those. But that was a good thing. It meant that I was a lot more open about things.
It was rough. . . . There was [racism]. But I did a lot of other things that helped me have a wider view of some things early on. Like playing on the chess team, traveling a lot with them. . . . My [friends] were pretty mixed, in the main nationalities that you get in England--African, Caribbean, Asian [Indian], English. . . . I quite liked that. I used to tend to get to know everyone.
Tjinder Singh
Like he says in one of his songs, he’s kind of a walking contradiction or puzzle or paradox. I think a lot of his makeup is [from] not being accepted by either parts of his family to maybe parts of the music communities in England.
David Byrne on Tjinder Singh

Cornershop on YouTube:

::: Brimful of Asha: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Sleep on the Left Side: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Soul School: LISTEN/WATCH

- - - - - - - - - -
- Aldrich, H. E., Cater, J. C., Jones, T. P. & Mcevoy, D. (1980). Business development and self-segregation: Asian enterprise in three British cities; LINK + LINK
- Hyder, R. (2004). Brimful of Asia. Negotiating Ethnicity on the UK Music Scene. Routledge.
- photographs of Cornershop via and via

Monday 28 October 2019

Spock, the Outsider Struggling to Understand Humanity

"Leonard Nimoy inspired many boys and girls, men and women, to embrace cultural diversity."
Robert Greene

"Spock’s importance to the Trek mythos is unmistakable. His character was the first of several characters in Star Trek used to explore the human condition. Data in The Next Generation, Odo in Deep Space Nine, Seven of Nine and The Doctor in Voyager, T’Pol in Enterprise: all these characters are just different incarnations of Spock, the outsider struggling to understand humanity. He was the consummate outsider to the rest of the Enterprise crew. In a sense, we could all relate to Spock. When have you felt misunderstood, alone, or isolated? Or have you ever experienced being stuck between two worlds, two cultures, two distinct ways of thinking? In that case you were, for a moment, Spock."
Robert Greene

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 photograph of Leonard Nimoy (Westwood, California, 1966) via

Friday 25 October 2019

Speaking to the Whole Family of Humankind. Nichelle Nichols, NASA Recruiter (1977)

"I had always been proud of our feats in space. But something always bothered me: Where are the women? Where are the people of color?"
Nichelle Nichols

The United States landed a man on the moon in 1969 -- but our astronauts needn't be limited to white males.
There were no women, and there were no minorities in the space program -- and that's supposed to represent the whole country?
Not in this day and age. We just absolutely cannot have that. I can't be a part of that. 
I was somewhat of a celebrity in their eyes. I had gone on television and in several interviews spoke of why they should get involved, and they took it up and said 'she's absolutely right'.
Nichelle Nichols
In the 1960s, spaceflight was a (white) male-dominated programme. After Kennedy's speech to the nation calling for Congress to give "all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public", Kennedy and Johnson (at the time Vice President) "took steps to create more inclusive job opportunities as part of the buildup for the Apollo lunar landing program" and NASA started to encourage black US-Americans to work at one of their facilities. Initially, progress was rather slow. In 1967, Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. (1935-1967) became NASA's first black astronaut, Guy Bluford was the first black US-American to fly in space in 1983 - the same year Sally Ride became the first US-American woman in space (via) who, by the way, had heard about the space programme through Nichelle Nichols (via).
In an unprecedented move, knowing that NASA was planning to hire approximately 200,000 people in Southern states, recruiters were asked to travel around the country trying to persuade African-American scientists and engineers to work in the space program.
Janet Petro

Nichelle Nichols was hired to change the face of NASA by recruiting women and minority astronauts such as Ronald McNairSally Ride and Mae Jamison (via). She promised to bring "many qualified women and minority astronaut applicants"...
When NASA was developing the Space Shuttle in the 1970s, it needed to recruit a new group of astronauts to fly the vehicle, deploy the satellites, and perform the science experiments, and was encouraging women and minorities to apply to be astronauts. The Agency hired Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Nyota Uhura as the Communications Officer on the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek, to record a recruiting video. She came to JSC in March 1977, and accompanied by Apollo 12 and Skylab 3 astronaut Alan L. Bean, toured the center and filmed scenes for the video in Mission Control and other facilities. NASA hoped that her stature and popularity would encourage women and minorities to apply, and indeed they did. In January 1978, when NASA announced the selection of 35 new astronauts, among them for the first time were women and minorities
John Uri, NASA Johnson Space Center
...and kept her promise.
I am going to bring you so many qualified women and minority astronaut applicants for this position that if you don't choose one… everybody in the newspapers across the country will know about it.
Suddenly the people who were responding were the bigger Trekkers you ever saw. They truly believed what I said… it was a very successful endeavor. It changed the face of the astronaut corp forever.
Nichelle Nichols

"Hi, I'm Nichelle Nichols but I still feel a little bit like Lieutenant Uhura on the Starship Enterprise. You know, now there is a 20th century enterprise, an actual space vehicle built by NASA and designed to put us into the business of space. (...) The shuttle may even be used to build a space station in order to orbit the earth. And this would require the services of people with a variety of skills and qualifications. (...) Now, the shuttle will be taking scientists and engineers, men and women of all races into space just like the astronaut crew on the Starship Enterprise. So that is why I'm speaking to the whole family of humankind - minorities and women alike. If you qualify and would like to be an astronaut, now is the time. This is your NASA, a space agency embarked on a mission to improve the quality of life on planet earth right now."

Related postings:

::: The Future of Women Astronauts Seen From 1962: LINK
::: The Nonstereotypical Role of Lieutenant Uhura: LINK
::: Public Library: LINK
::: Nichelle Nichols. Her Legacy Project: LINK
::: "It's as simple as that.": LINK
::: Tomorrowland & The Cultural Lag Theory: LINK

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- images via and via
- NASA 1977 recruitment film