Saturday 30 October 2021

A Master Cultural Narrative of Old Age: The Metaphor of the Journey

"A main concern I have with narratives in gerontology is that the potential (and actual) presence of master cultural narratives is not discussed. There are numerous master narratives of later life that can damage not only the identity of older adults, but also how older age is understood by others. For example, late life is often portrayed by the metaphor of the journey.

The significance of the life-as-journey narrative is that importance is placed solely on the past, not the present or future. This implies that from the standpoint of later life, everything worth doing has passed as a pilgrim-like progression through time, followed by a period of wisdom, reflection, and acceptance in older age. Related to this notion is loneliness—the idea that, since social networks have become smaller over time, new relationships are not likely. Although the research literature does not support the idea that older people are lonelier than other age groups (Victor et al., 2002), the stereotype still persists." (de Medeiros, n.d.).

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- de Medeiros, K. (n.d.). Narrative Gerontology: Countering the Master Narratives of Aging, link
- photograph via

Friday 29 October 2021

Porch Portraits (Susan Meiselas, 1974)

I would drive down a road, see a house, stop my car and hope that someone would open their door. I hadn’t planned what I would say. I began by explaining that I was teaching photography in the local elementary school, that I came from the North, and would like to take their photo. I didn’t really know why. As my work has evolved, it’s rarely been focused on portraits. Portraits usually aren’t an expression of a sustained relationship. I often find them to be awkward and tense encounters. Now, from a distance of more than 40 years, there are so many more questions that I wish I had asked, but maybe didn’t feel that I could.

These photographs come from a time when tenderness was still possible. We could see each other, if only for a moment. Each exchange led me to make a picture and when I returned home I sent every family a print in the form of an enlarged postcard. That process was most important to me. They had welcomed me to trespass. The postcard was simply a gesture to acknowledge that crossing we shared. I wonder now how their lives have evolved. Looking back at myself as a young white woman making this work leads me to rethink my own connection to the history of the South, which I knew so little about then.
Susan Meiselas

photographs by Susan Meiselas via and via and via

Thursday 28 October 2021

Men vs Women Adopting Dogs

According to an analysis of dog adoption in the Czech Republic (2010-2016), there are significant gender differences concerning adopters: Generally speaking, more women than men adopt dogs. Women adopt more small dogs, men more large dogs, women adopt more older dogs (and dogs requring special care) and more brown dogs while men adopt more black dogs

- Vodičková, B., Večerek, V. & Voslářová, E. (2019). The effect of adopter's gender on shelter dog selection preferences, link
- photograph by Elliott Erwitt via

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Narrative Gerontology

Narrative gerontology is a way to study ageing. Its main approach is to explore ageing through the metaphor of "life as story" understanding individuals as thinking and acting on the basis of stories, seeing human beings as storytellers and storylisteners, as biographical beings who do not have stories, but are stories. It is "a lens through which to view the aging process, a unique way of seeing what aging involves" (Kenyon & Randall, 1999).

Over the decades, the body of gerontological research continued to grow but perspectives from the humanities were absent until the 1970s. Only then did researchers start asking questions about the meaning of age, i.e., the whys rather than the hows. "The shift to meaning-based inquirey in gerontolgy in many ways laid important groundwork for narrative gerontology." The term "narrative gerontology" was coined by Ruth in 1994 (via).

My parents were storytellers: the first half of my life was punctuated by the stories they would tell us (me and my siblings) of our Dutch ancestry, culture, and history, our Canadian roots, our family’s journey, the early experiences of my older siblings, and my early life. These stories informed and intrigued us, connected and grounded us, provided direction, and occasionally embarrassed or bored us. I recall that these stories would often enliven my parents, sometimes sadden them, and/or appear to stimulate their thinking; as a child, I can remember remarking to myself (and being somewhat perplexed at the time) that these stories were often directed more at themselves than at us. There seemed to be multiple messages and many levels to these stories. Now my parents are deceased and their stories, as I struggle to recall them, have a renewed, more immediate and ultimately poignant appeal. (de Medeiros, 2013)

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- de Medeiros, K. (2013). Stucturing the Insider's View: Narrative Gerontology in Research and practice. The Gerontologist, 55(2), 337-338.
- Kenyon, G. & Randall, W. (1999). Introduction: Narrative gerontology. Journal of Aging Studies, 13(1), 1-5.
- photograph by Gundula Schulze Eldowy via

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Going to School in L.A. in the 1970s

The photograph shows the first black US-American students to attend Plymouth Elementary School in Monrovia (Los Angeles County, California) arriving by bus on 10th of September 1970.

School desegregation and busing sparked protests in Los Angeles in the 1970s - more than two decades after the Supreme Court had outlawed segregation at schools - leading white middle-class families fleeing from the L.A. Unified School District and moving to more homogeneous suburban districts devoid of busing. Mandatory busing was seen as a means to integrate and remedy the harms of segregation since the black population was kept from living in so-called white neighbourhoods and, as a result, from attending schools in these neigbhourhoods. 

In 1979, forced busing was ended and L.A. shifted to a voluntary busing system under court supervision which became the so-called "magnet" programme. The programme aimed at becoming so attractive in academic terms that white students would be drawn to schools they would otherwise not attend. Another approach was to allow ethnic minority students from low-income South L.A. to take buses to scholls in traditionally white areas in the San Fernando Valley. Los Angeles has kept its magnet programme and white students attend some of them. Generally speaking, however, their number is rather low: 73.4% Latino, 10.5% white, 8.2% black American, 4.2% Asian (via).

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photograph (Fitzgerald Whitney/Los Angeles Times) via

Monday 25 October 2021

"I Don't Hate All Women..." Incels, Porn, and Misogyny

"I dont hate indian women as a whole. Only those disrespectful stuck up b*tches; I don’t hate all women but modern Western women; I don’t hate women just hate feminists and sl*ts."

"This article seeks to establish the connection—via shared discourse—between those who identify as involuntary celibates online (henceforth Incels) and mainstream pornography. Using an interdisciplinary approach involving linguistic analysis of Reddit forum data—more precisely the r/incels Subreddit—informed by research into digital behaviors and feminist analysis, we demonstrate how both mainstream pornography and Incels are different manifestations of the same deep-rooted misogyny, enabled and exacerbated by contemporary technologies. It is not the aim of this article to establish a causal link between the watching of pornography and negative behavioral change, nor is it our intention to cast judgments on people’s sexual practices. We want to move beyond a simplistic pro-porn or anti-porn dichotomy that discourages debate, and instead provide evidence of its commonalities with other practices that are more often seen as aspects of the ongoing normalization of violence against women (VAW) and whose misogynistic nature, therefore, tends to be taken more seriously."

Some results (excerpts):

Women are one homogeneous group.

"(...) the discussion of the success of obese women (as opposed to Incels) in finding (sexual) partners. This view is often supported by pseudo-scientific facts and dubious external data, suggesting that women, unlike men, are in high (sexual) demand and, therefore, even women who appear low on the “attractiveness scale” will find a (sexual) partner, while men who are not at the top of this scale are condemned to a life of celibacy. This is expressed clearly by one of the users on the forum: There are many males that have literally zero options. [There is strong demand for even the ugliest of women.] (link to The top 20% of men get the top 80% of the women, and the bottom 80% of men fight like dogs over the remaining 20% of women. This is why in a sexually free society, even the ugliest most deformed obese women can get males of average attractiveness. In this system, women are the gatekeepers of sex, while Incels are their victims. As shown in the following, it is particularly feminism—with the sexual liberation of women—that Incels blame for their misery."

(...) women are often talked about in terms of what happens in their minds, rather than in terms of their actions in the external world. Thus, despite their factual and pseudo-scientific tone, these discussions are speculative, particularly when they occur alongside aggregation (e.g., Because the majority of modern women don’t want a loving boyfriend). These conjectures often revolve around the type of men that women are supposedly attracted to (e.g., Women don’t like ugly men who aren’t rich, because they aren’t good providers), or around women’s sexuality, including the suggestion that women enjoy abusive relationships and aggressive sex.

"Like in pornography, where the tendency is for female performers not to say “no,” but to show pleasure when subjected to physical aggression, Incels believe that aggression and female pleasure are connected (e.g., Most women don’t like it soft: they like it rough, hard, and deep)."

"Scholars (Jensen, 2011; Makin & Morczek, 2015) have suggested that mainstream pornography—with its unceasing exploitation of women—encourages the acceptance and propagation of “rape culture,” (...). Some comments on r/incels show that this is not just a prerogative of pornography: But the deal is that they start liking it in the middle of the act or follow the guy around later like puppies on a leash. So rape is what modern Western women want."

"(...) the most frequent attributes for women: whores, people, and sluts. The specifically sexually derogatory nature of this language is worth noting, as r/incels (like pornography) appears to be a site of constant (re)production of ways to linguistically degrade and objectify women. For example, Incels refer to women as cumdump, cumrags, or twatrags—a term that indicates an old garment used to clean up bodily fluids following ejaculation. Another way in which Incels use sex to linguistically dehumanize women is through verbs that are normally applied to things such as soil or roads (e.g., a 30yo woman who has been plowed by 150 different cocks). The verb plow here, in addition to normally being applied to inanimate objects, also suggests violence (e.g., fields are plowed with sharp objects). The implication is not only that women are objects to be treated aggressively but also that the penis is a powerful weapon to be used against them. This discussion of women as objects used for sex or as receptacles of men’s penises and semen (dumpsters, holes, tubes) recalls some of the most popular images of mainstream pornography (...)."

"Incels also dehumanize women by referring to them as objects, female humanoid organisms (or femoids) or animals, as shown by metaphors such as women are fucking animals, women are shallow creatures, women are toxic wild beasts. Perhaps the strongest indicator of the propensity of Incels not to see women as human beings is the frequent reminder on r/incels that women are people (e.g., women are people literally just like you). Arguably, the very need to state the obvious, that is, that women are people, is an intertextual reference to the common presupposition among Incels that women are something else (animals, objects, holes, containers). The dehumanization of women (for sexual pleasure) is part and parcel of “rape culture” (Jensen, 2011) and a major feature of mainstream pornography."

"This sense of entitlement to and understanding of women’s bodies as objects (that must be obtained) also appears in the ways in which FORCE is used. While many users do not explicitly encourage forcing women to have sex or be in relationships with them, the discussion of the obvious suggests, again, that this is indeed a possibility for Incels. In fact, not forcing women is often linked to their inability, rather than their unwillingness, to do so (e.g., I cannot force a woman to desire me or have sex with me so essentially I am screwed). Women are once again positioned as gatekeepers of sex and, consequently, of Incels’ happiness. Incels, in contrast, are the victims: constantly starved for sex and fighting other men to gain access to women’s bodies that are scarcely available (to Incels)."

"The specific hatred for feminists is also shown by the fact that feminist is more often associated with (sexually) derogatory language than woman. (...) feminist is similar to words such as whore, bitch, cuck, slut, idiot, cunt, while woman is more similar to words like people, man, girl, guy, female, person. The type of abusive language that one may expect to find on the forum does not target women in general; it tends to be specifically directed toward feminists, who receive insults for their “promiscuity.”"

"What Incels really hate—and what they blame feminists for—is women who refuse them, women who sleep with several men but say “no” to Incels. It is these women who receive most online (sexualized) abuse (Lewis et al., 2017), arguably in an attempt to control them through silencing. This generates a paradoxical situation, in which derogatory terms that refer to “promiscuous” women are not being used for women who participate in sexual acts with numerous men, but for women who say “no.”"

"Like in offline sexualized violence, for Incels too sex is the chosen weapon to express the hatred and revenge that women “deserve” for rejecting them and choosing aggressive alpha men instead."

"The issue, therefore, is a broader one and a cultural one; neither Incel ideology nor mainstream pornography should be problematized separately or insulated from discussions of women’s equality, because these practices are not detached from other forms of misogyny but are an extension of these and symptoms of structural misogyny. Neither pornography nor Incels created misogyny, but misogyny underlies and correlates both practices, which, therefore, should be understood as part of a “networked misogyny” (Banet-Weiser & Miltner, 2016) that, separately or cumulatively, causes harm and is not limited to the online world. While the internet, as a “site of social and cultural reproduction that reflects real-world patterns” (Lewis et al., 2017, p. 1464), enables the exponential replication of misogyny by inventing, spreading, and reproducing techniques to attack women (online and offline), online misogyny is not a product of the technology, but a result of the society that shaped it."

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- Tranchese, A. & Sugiura, L. (2021). “I Don’t Hate All Women, Just Those Stuck-Up Bitches”: How Incels and Mainstream Pornography Speak the Same Extreme Language of Misogyny. Violence Against Women, 27(14), 2709-2734; link
- photographs by Susan Meiselas via and via 

Sunday 24 October 2021

"Everybody’s looking at me."

Anna Grevenitis, a French photographer living in the U.S., has a son and a daughter, Luigia, 16, called Lulu. Although Down syndrom is not rare, being in public with her daughter still brings "a less welcome form of attention". From a certain age on, Lulu started noticing this attention and, depending on her mood, either reacted saying "Everybody loves me. Everybody's looking at me." or "Everybody hates me. Everybody's looking at me." Her mother reacted with a stare of her own.

In her series, Grrevenitis directs "a defiant gaze toward the camera, while her daughter goes about the daily routines of a teen-age girl". She presents Lulu to the viewer, however, on their own terms defending her from unwanted judgment. Her series is an ordinary portrait of adolescence unlike the stereotypical portrayal of children with Down syndrome usually tending to show an "angelic, saccharine, and unmolested soul" or a "burdensome, unwanted, and ultimately pitiable victim" (via).

"When my daughter was born, I was told that she had the “physical markers” for Down syndrome. A few days later, the diagnosis of trisomy 21 was confirmed with a simple blood test. Today, fifteen years later, Luigia is a thriving teenager, yet these “markers” have grown with her, and her disability remains visible to the outside world. As we try to go about our ordinary lives in our community–getting ice cream after school, going grocery shopping or walking to the local library–I often catch people staring, gawking, or side-glancing at her, at us. Even though their gaze feels invasive, I perceive it as more questioning than judging, at least most of the time. With this on-going series REGARD, I am opening a window into our reality. To emphasize control over my message, these everyday scenes are meticulously set, lit up; they are staged and posed. The performers are my daughter and I because, as her principal caretaker, particular attention is directed at me each time we leave our home. The self-portraits are purposefully developed in black and white, for by refusing the decorative and emotionally evocative element of color, I aim to maintain a distance between us and them. The composition of the photographs expresses routine, domestic acts in which I address the viewers directly: look at us bathing; look at us grooming; here we are at bedtime; this is us on a random day at the beach. In each scene, the viewers are plunged into the outside perspective. At first glance, it may seem that I am offering us as vulnerable prey to their judgement, yet in fact I am guarding our lives, and the viewers are caught gawking–my direct gaze at the camera. Through the direct, return gaze, I am not only the one in control, but I am also the one the viewer eventually focuses on. Image after image, I am emerging center-stage as I am asking to be seen. A shift in perspective is imposed. Because of the otherness of our circumstance, I know I am being scrutinized, and my own narcissistic inkling is surfacing. In the end, I am not so much interested in answering the viewers’ questions anymore as I am leaving them with mine: what is this saying about me?" Anna Grevenitis

photographs via

Tuesday 19 October 2021

A fierce grudge against poverty...

“I hold a fierce grudge against poverty because I was so desperately poor when I was young. But accusing my past is hardly the answer. There is, I want to believe, a personal need to recognise the right of every man to live a reasonably decent life."
Gordon Parks

photograph by Gordon Parks via

Sunday 17 October 2021

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

“We know by now how to photograph poor people. What we don’t know is how to photograph affluence – whose other face is poverty.”
Dorothea Lange

On 17 October 1987, a hundred thousand people gathered in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to "honour the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger" as poverty is a violation of human rigts. Since then, 17 October has been the day dedicated to the eradication of poverty, the day we show solidarity with the poor, acknowledge the struggle of people living in poverty, make their concerns heard, and use their expertise to fight poverty (via).

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photograph by Dorothea Lange via

Saturday 16 October 2021

A gentle way of looking at things

"And as I've gotten older, I've had more of a tendency to look for people who live by kindness, tolerance, compassion, a gentler way of looking at things."
Martin Scorsese

photograph via

Friday 15 October 2021

Loneliness + Age, Gender, Disability

By 2025, about two million of so-called over-50s will be experiencing loneliness - an increase of 49% in ten years. Almost 60% of those aged 85 and over live alone. Half a million older people spend at least five days a week without seeing anyone or talking to another person. Two fifths say that the television is the main company they have. Women report feeling lonely more often than men and  up to 50% of people with disabilities are lonely on any given day.

Anxiety, fear, helplessness and shame is what people feel when they describe what it is like to be lonely. These emotions can create a downward spiral since loneliness can make people withdraw more and more from friends and family. Loneliness also tends to make people anticipate fearful situations with a focus on what might be social rejection cues. Loneliness can also worsen when its causes are seen as permanent and not likely to change (via and via).

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photograph by Diane Arbus

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Orson Welles Commentaries (4): Banned Film

This is Orson Welles speaking. A motion picture in which I play a part was scheduled for a couple days running last week in Aiken, South Carolina. But the film was banned. Well, I’m used to being banned. I’ve been banned by whole governments. The Nazis in Germany have banned me, and the fascists of Italy and Spain have banned me. Here at home, the merest mention of my name is forbidden by Mr. Hearst to all his subject newspapers. But: to be outlawed by an American city is a new experience.

The movie in question is neither controversial, nor obscene. But I’m in it, and for the taste of Aiken, that makes any movie too offensive to be endured. Not only was the actual celluloid driven out of the city limits, as with a fiery sword, but in defense of civic sensitivities and to protect the impressionable of Aiken’s youth from the shock of my name and likeness, a detachment of police officers working under the direction of the city council itself solemnly tore down such posters as the local theatre manager had been rash enough to put up by way of advertisement. And burnt same, together with all printed matter having reference to me, in a formal bonfire in the public streets.

I’m also informed I’ve been somewhat less officially “hanged” in effigy. And while I have an apology to offer Aiken, it’s been suggested that I would be ill advised to deliver it in person. Since I brought to your attention the case of Isaac Woodard, the case has grown to an issue of the most heated popular concern. It deserves all the national interest it’s getting. Isaac Woodard is the veteran whose eyes were beaten out of his head by a policeman, in the streets of a place in South Carolina, that Isaac Woodard thought was Aiken. He said so in an affidavit, and when I read his affidavit on this program, the mayor of Aiken, the chief of police and others, subsequently preoccupied with the public burning of my name and picture, sent affidavits of their own protesting innocence.

My problem was the choice of affidavits. The boy had been blinded. That was the one clear, brutal fact. And I stuck to that with a promise to Aiken’s officialdom that I would apologize for publishing the veterans’ testimony when and if my investigators could show a decent doubt. The records were amazingly brief. The policeman who delivered Woodard to the hospital was not named. This is most unusual. The place where the attack occurred was not mentioned in the report. This is almost unheard of.

But my investigators, the investigators of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the investigators of the FBI, have together, narrowed down the search to the town of Batesburg, some nineteen miles from Aiken. And this morning comes word that the search has been narrowed still further. I have before me…wires and press releases to the effect that a policeman of Batesburg… a man by the name of Shaw, or Shore, or Shull, it is given three different ways here…the flash is just before us…Chief L.L. Shaw. Pronounce it however you want it. Or want to. Has admitted…that he was the police officer, who blinded Isaac Woodard. Thirty miles from Aiken. In South Carolina. This is in Batesburg.

I give you a few more of the facts. He has corroborated an army statement. Has police chief Shull or Shaw. That ex-serviceman Isaac Woodard was struck on the head with a blackjack. Chief Shull or Shaw says he was called to the bus one night last February to arrest Woodard who, and I’m reading from a Press Association, he said was drunk. Shaw claimed to have hit Woodard across the head when Woodard tried to take away his blackjack. He added that the blow may have landed in the veteran’s eyes. Shull or Shaw, the police chief, described the eyes as swollen the next day when Woodard was fined and the record’s his court, and says he then drove Woodard to a veterans’ hospital, at a doctor’s suggestion. Now, you remember from the affidavit, and from further reports of our investigators, that Woodard said he’d been offered liquor, after he was attacked by the police, which he refused. And investigators at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples, have discovered three other occupants of that bus. All of whom claim, in affidavits, that Woodard was not drunk, nor was he drinking. Woodard, you might remember, appealed for medical aid. And also according to the UP, Shaw, or Shore, or Shull, brands these stories as lies. He has volunteered no information, for this, he was unearthed by investigation. Well, the good citizens of Aiken must be surely so glad to hear this, that my apology tendered here with and as promised, most abjectly, will come as merely incidental comfort.

Batesburg, unlike Aiken, has turned out to be to blame. The search is narrowed down. We’re getting close to the truth, we have the admission of a man that he was the officer, the officer whom I call X. I would like to remind Officer X, otherwise known as Shull or Shaw, of another promise, a promise I made to the blinded Isaac Woodard. If Chief Shull or Shaw is listening to me now and it’s more than possible that he is, it gives me pleasure to repeat that promise. Officer X. We know your name now. Now that we’ve found you out, we’ll never lose you. If they try you for your crime, I am going to watch the trial, Chief Shull. If they jail you, I’m going to wait for your first day of freedom. You won’t be free of me. I want to see who’s waiting for you at the prison gates. I want to know who will acknowledge that they know you. I’m interested in your future, I will take note of all your destinations. Assume another name, and I will be careful that the name you would forget is not forgotten. Officer Shull or Shaw. Police chief of the city of Batesburg. I will find means to remove from you all refuge. You can’t get rid of me. We have an appointment. You and I. Only death can cancel it. (Orson Welles)

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photograph via

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Orson Welles Commentaries (3): To Be Born Free

This is Orson Welles. I’ve spoken these words before, but not on the radio. To be born free, is to be born in debt. To live in freedom without fighting slavery, is to profiteer. By plane last night, I flew over some parts of our Republic where American citizenship is a luxury beyond the means of the majority. I rode comfortably in my plane above a sovereign state or two where fellow countrymen of ours can’t vote without the privilege of cash. I bought my breakfast this morning where Negroes may not come except to serve their white brothers. And there I overheard a member of some master race or other tell all those who listened that something must be done to suppress the Jews.

I have met southerners who expect and fear a Negro insurrection. I see no purpose in withholding this from general discussion. There may be those in that outcast ten percent of the American people who someday will strike back at their oppressors, but to put down that mob, a mob would rise. I’d like to ask please, who will put down that mob? The scaly dinosaurs of reaction, if indeed they notice what I’m speaking here, will say in their newspapers that I’m a communist. Communists know otherwise. I’m an overpaid movie producer with pleasant reasons to rejoice, and I do, in the wholesome practicability of the profit system. But surely my right to having more than enough is cancelled if I don’t use that more to help those who have less.

My subject today is the question of moral indebtedness. So, I’d like to acknowledge here the debt that goes with ownership. I believe, and this has very much to do with my own notion of freedom, I believe I owe the very profit I make to the people I make it from. If this is radicalism, it comes…automatically to most of us in show business, it being generally agreed that any public man owes his position to the public. That’s what I mean when I say I’m your obedient servant. It’s a debt payable in service and the highest efforts of the debtor. The extension of this moral argument insists no man owns anything outright since he owns it rent free. A wedding never bought a wife. And the devotion of his child is no man’s for the mere begetting. We must each day earn what we own. A healthy man owes to the sick all that he can do for them. An educated man owes to the ignorant all that he can do for them. A free man owes to the world’s slaves all that he can do for them. And what is to be done is more, much more, than good works, Christmas baskets, bonuses, and tips, and bread and circuses. There is only one thing to be done with slaves. Free them.

If we can’t die in behalf of progress, we can live for it. Progress, we Americans take to mean, a fuller realization of democracy. The measure of progress, as we understand it, is the measure of equality enjoyed by all men. We can do something about that. The way our fighting brothers and sisters looked at it, some of them dead as I speak these words, the way they looked at it: we’re lucky. And they’re right, we’re lucky. We’re lucky to be alive. But only if our lives make life itself worth dying for. We must be worthy of our luck, or we are damned. Our lives were spared, but this is merely the silliest of accidents. Unless we put the gift of life to the hard employments of justice. If we waste that gift, we won’t have anywhere to hide from the indignation of history.

I wanna say this. The morality of the auction block is out of date. There is no room in the American century for Jim Crow. The times urge new militancy upon the democratic attitude. Tomorrow’s democracy discriminates against discrimination. Its charter won’t include the freedom to end freedom. What is described as a feeling against some races can’t be further respected. Feeling is a ninnyish, mincing way of saying something ugly. But the word is good enough for race hate when we add that it’s a feeling of guilt. Race hate isn’t human nature, race hate is the abandonment of human nature. But this is true: we hate whom we hurt. And we mistrust whom we betray. There are minority problems because minority races are often wronged. Race hate distilled from the suspicions of ignorance takes its welcome from the impotent and the godless. Comforting these with hellish parodies of what they’ve lost. Arrogance to take the place of pride. Contempt to occupy the spirit emptied of love of man. There are alibis for the phenomenon, excuses, economic and social, but the brutal fact is simply this: where the racist lies are acceptable, there is corruption. Where there is hate, there is shame. The human soul receives race hate only in the sickness of guilt.

The Indian, the Red Indian, is on our American conscience. The Negro is on our conscience, the Chinese and the Mexican American are on our conscience. The Jew is on the conscience of Europe. But our neglect gives us communion in that guilt. So that there dances even here the lunatic spectre of anti-semitism. This is deplored. But it must be fought. And the fight must be won. The race haters must be stopped. The lynchings must be stopped. No matter who’s going to be governor of Georgia, the murders in Monroe must be avenged. Gene Talmadge might call it foreign meddling, but the governor-elect who, you remember, campaigned on the Bilbo platform of race-hate needs to be told: that all the states in the Union and all the people in them are concerned. Immediately, personally concerned when a mob forms in the sovereign privacy of Georgia. The mob said it was taking care of things in its own way, well then, we’re going to have to take care of the mob. In our own way.

Those who take the law into their own hands are going to learn about some laws that’ll tie their hands. We’ll write those laws, and we’ll enforce them. To do him justice, old Gene went and issued himself a statement. After the killings in Monroe were public knowledge, he said the killings were regrettable. But old Gene’s made it plenty clear, he doesn’t figure any foreigner has the right to poke around asking embarrassing questions. I am sending old Gene a copy of the dawn sermon of the tolling bell, but I don’t suppose he’ll get the point. The point is, of course, that no man, even Gene Talmadge, is an island entire of itself. Point, of course, is that even Georgia is a piece of the continent. The American continent. And if a clod be washed away by the sea, or if a colored man and his wife are murdered on a dusty country road, America is the less.

And then there’s the soldier in the hospital. The blind soldier. The soldier said he was blinded, and the mayor and the chief of police in the place where the soldier says it happened, are most indignant with me for repeating what he said and swore to. The Times the other day was full of their official protests. Sent under seal all the way up to New York City via the inviolable borders of Aiken county, in South Carolina. My investigators are still hard at work on the case. If the soldier was wrong about the place, I’m going to do something about it. But he isn’t wrong about his eyes. He lost them. I’m going to do something about that. All the affidavits from all the policemen in the world won’t protest his eyes back in his head. Somebody, somebody who called himself an officer of the law, beat that boy with a stick, until he lost his sight. Now, that somebody is nobody. He’s vanished, he’s never been heard of, he hasn’t any name, well…he’s going to be heard of. The blind soldier has my promise of that. That somebody is going to be named. Editorials, and lots of newspapers, and lots of people, are writing me to demand to know what business it is of mine. God judge me if it isn’t the most pressing business I have.

The blind soldier fought for me in this war. The least I can do now is fight for him. I have eyes. He hasn’t. I have a voice on the radio, he hasn’t. I was born a white man. And until a colored man is a full citizen, like me, I haven’t the leisure to enjoy the freedom that colored man risked his life to maintain for me. I don’t own what I have until he owns an equal share of it. Until somebody beats me and blinds me, I am in his debt. And so I come to this microphone not as a radio dramatist, though it pays better, not as a commentator, although it’s safer to be simply that, I come in that boy’s name, and in the name of all who in this land of ours have no voice of their own. I come with a call for action. This is a time for it. I call for action against the cause of riot. I know that to some ears, even the word “action” has a revolutionary twang, and it won’t surprise me if I’m accused in some quarters of inciting to riot. Well, I’m very interested in riots. I’m very interested in avoiding them. And so I call for action against the cause of riots.

Law is the best action, the most decisive. I call for laws prohibiting what moral judgement already counts as lawlessness. American law forbids a man the right to take away another’s right. It must be law that groups of men can’t use the machinery of our republic to limit the rights of other groups. The vote can’t be used to take away the vote. It’s in the people’s power to see to it that what makes lynchings and starts wars is dealt with. Not by well-wishers, but by policemen. And I mean good policemen. Oh, for several generations there may be men who can’t be weaned away from the fascist vices of race hate. But we should deny such men the responsibility in public affairs exactly as we deny responsibility to the wretched victims of the drug habit. There are laws against peddling dope, there can be laws against peddling race hate. But every man has a right to his own opinion as an American boasts, but race hate is not an opinion, it’s a phobia. It isn’t a viewpoint, race hate is a disease. In a people’s world, the incurable racist has no rights. He must be deprived of influence in a people’s government. He must be segregated, as he himself would segregate the colored and semitic peoples. As we now segregate the leprous and the insane.

Anything very big is very simple.¸ If there’s a big race question, there’s a big answer to it. The big answer is simple. Like the word no. This is my proposition: that the sin of race hate be solemnly declared a crime. What makes this difficult is the conservative fear of raising issues. Well, let’s admit that this fear is often no more sinister than an honest dread of going to the dentist, but let’s respect the effectiveness of reactionary manipulations of that fear, which is the fear of anarchy and revolution. It is put to wicked use against the same general welfare conservative opinion seeks to protect. Forced to acknowledge Hitler’s enmity, conservatives are loathe to admit that even as he surrendered in Europe, he succeeded in America. Let conservatives evaluate the impudent candor of fascism in Argentina today. And be reminded that the heroic survival of our liberty is no proof of its immortality. Our liberty every day has to be safe from marauders whose greed is for all things possessed by the people. Care of these possessions is the hope of life on this planet. They are living things, they grow. These fair possessions of democracy. And nothing but death can stop that growth. Let the yearners for the past, the willfully childish, learn now the facts of life.

The first of which is the fact of that growth. In our hemisphere, the growing has begun, but only just begun. America can write her name across this century, and so she will, if we, the people, brown and black and red, rise now to the great occasion of our brotherhood. It will take courage. It calls for the doing of great deeds, which means the dreaming of great dreams. Giving the world back to its inhabitants is too big a job for the merely practical. The architects of freedom are always capable of hope. The lawmakers of true democracy are true believers. They believe quite simply in the people, in all of them. Only the devout deserve the trust of government, for only the devout can face the unimaginable vistas of man’s destiny. God grant them steadfast hope and the rest of us enduring patience. For we must not expect from any leadership a shiny ready made millennium in our time. No one of us will live to see a blameless peace. We must strive and pray and die for what will be here when we’re gone. Our children’s children are the ancestors of a free people. We send our greetings ahead of us to them.

To history yet unmade, our greetings.To the generations, sleeping in our loins.Be of good heart. The fight is worth it.

That just about means that my time is up. When my time’s up, it’s time for me to say goodbye, and to invite you please to join me, the same time, the same station. Next week. Until then. Thank you for your attention. I remain as always…obediently yours. Orson Welles


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photograph by Douglas Kirkland via

Monday 11 October 2021

Orson Welles Commentaries (2): The Peacemakers

Last week, I read you an affidavit from a Negro soldier named Isaac Woodard. You remember he was taken off a bus in South Carolina by a policeman and beaten until he was blinded in both eyes. I have a formal letter from a Mr. H. Odell Weeks, who, it seems, is the mayor of the city of Aiken in the state of South Carolina. Where, according to the soldier’s affidavit, he was blinded. The mayor encloses affidavits of his own, sworn to by the city recorder, by the city chief of police, by a couple of patrol officers. Now, these gentlemen deny all knowledge of the incident.

“It is indeed unfortunate,” writes Mr. Weeks, and these are his exact words, quote that you did not fully verify this story. Before you broadcasted it. Unquote. The mayor goes on to say that since my broadcast went out to the nation, and since, according to the affidavits, whose accounts are wholly untrue, he the mayor urges that I have the courage and forthrightness to retract the wrong I’ve done his city. Giving to my own retraction the same emphasis that I’ve placed on the original broadcast. Well, Mr. Weeks…I hardly know how to make affidavits of your city recorder and city policeman as emphatic as Mr. Woodard’s in the hospital for the blind. If it turns out to be true that the city of Aiken is blameless of this hideous scandal, it is my duty to make that innocence as public as possible. I hope to be able to. But: I must warn you that denials are never dramatic. And if I’m to say something exciting about Aiken will have to be something better than that a Negro boy was never blinded in its streets.

I look forward to giving the subject of Aiken all the emphasis it deserves. But I am bound to fail without some affirmative material. There are thousands of cities where Negro soldiers have not been blinded. I hope it will be my privilege to announce that your city is one of these. But since the broadcast is going to go out, as you put it, to the nation let’s spice up the retraction with a little good news. I won’t ask you what the city of Aiken has done for Negro soldiers, or for Negroes, or for the blind. I’ll only ask you if you’re willing to join with me in a manhunt. A man dressed as a policeman blinded a discharged veteran. The blinded boy swears that his tormenter told him he came from the Aiken police. It is surely a more urgent matter for you to apprehend this impostor before he commits further outrages in your city’s name, then it is to exact from a commentator the cold comfort of apology.

You’ll get the apology when the facts are clear. Until then you must understand why it must be deferred. After all, Mr. Weeks, I have not only the affidavits of your policemen, I have also the affidavits of the blinded soldier. Working on the meagre clue that there’s also an Aiken county, I’ve sent investigators there and to your city. Who should bring out the truth. Unless it is too skillfully hidden. The soldier might easily have made a mistake, but there’s a man in a policeman’s uniform who made a worse mistake. And all the retractions in the world won’t cleanse the name of Aiken. Till we find that man. I assure you Mr. Weeks, I do not doubt the word of your police chief. Your patrol officers, or your city recorder. But neither do I doubt the word of the blinded Negro boy. His suffering gives his oath a special validity. And I would take it against the Supreme Court and the President of the United States.

Let us say he misunderstood what was said to him. Or let us say he was lied to. But just saying that isn’t enough. Your city’s honor is certainly more important than my pride. But honor and pride are piddling trifles beside a pair of eyes. If it is your point that the boy was lied to, it is my point that we must refuse to rest until we’ve unmasked the liar. If you want me to say that this awful thing did not happen in your city, then there’s an American soldier who believes that it did happen in your city. And I cannot forget that. It is to him, Mr. Weeks, that you should address your first, and most indignant letters. They will of course need to be transcribed in braille.

And now I see my time is just about up. That’s all I have to say to you, for the moment, Mr. Mayor of Aiken. And you, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for coming to this part of your dial at this part of a Sunday. Please let me join you next week at this same time and… let me hear from you. Your letters are much appreciated, I like reading them on this program. Till next week then, same time, same station. I remain as always, obediently yours. Orson Welles


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photograph via

Sunday 10 October 2021

Orson Welles Commentaries (1): Affidavit of Isaac Woodard

In September 1945, ABC started broadcasting the fifteen-minutes-series "Orson Welles Commentaries" in which Welles made political and social commentaries (via). In this commentary, he addresses the racist police officer who blinded Isaac Woodard, Jr.:

"He was just another white man with a stick, who wanted to teach a Negro boy a lesson – to show a Negro boy where he belonged: In the darkness. Till we know more about him, for just now, we’ll call the policeman Officer X. He might be listening to this. I hope so. Officer X, I’m talking to you. (...) Wash your hands, Officer X. Wash them well. Scrub and scour, you won’t blot out the blood of a blinded war veteran. Nor yet the color of your skin. Your own skin. You’ll never, never change it. Wash your hands, Officer X. Wash a lifetime, you’ll never wash away that leprous lack of pigment. The guilty pallor of the white man."
Orson Welles

Good morning, this is Orson Welles speaking. (LISTEN)

I’d like to read to you…an affidavit. I, Isaac Woodard Jr, being duly sworn to depose and state as follows: that I am twenty seven years old and a veteran of the United States Army, having served fifteen months in the South Pacific, and having earned one battle star. I was honorably discharged on February 12, 1946, at Camp Gordon, Georgia, at 8:30 pm at the Greyhound terminal at Atlanta, Georgia. While I was in uniform I purchased a ticket to Winnsboro, South Carolina, and took the bus headed there to pick up my wife to come to New York to see my father and mother. About one hour out of Atlanta, the bus driver stopped at a small drug store, as he stopped I asked if he had time to wait for me until I had the chance to go to the restroom. He cursed and said no. When he cursed me, I cursed him back. When the bus got to Aiken, he got off and went and got the police. They didn’t give me a chance to explain. The policeman struck me across the head with a billy, and told me to shut up. After that, the policeman grabbed me by my left arm and twisted it behind my back. I figured he was trying to make me resist. I did not resist against him. (...)

He knocked me unconscious. After I commenced to recover myself, he yelled “Get up!”, I started to get up, he started punching me in my eyes with the end of the billy. When I finally got up he pushed me inside the jailhouse, and locked me up. I woke up next morning, and could not see. 

A policeman said, “Let’s go up here and see what the judge says.” I told him that I could not see, or come out, I was blind. He said, “Feel your way out.” He said I’d be alright after I washed my face. He led me to the judge, and after I told the judge what happened, he said, “We don’t have that kind of stuff down here.” (...)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I had that affidavit in my pocket a few hours before dawn when I left off worrying about this broadcast long enough for coffee at an all-night restaurant, I found myself joined at the table by a stranger. A nice, soft-spoken, well-meaning, well-mannered stranger. He told me a joke. He thinks it’s a joke. I’m going to repeat it, but not for your amusement, I earnestly hope that nobody listening will laugh. This is the joke.
Seems there’s a white man who came on business to a southern town, it could be Aiken, South Carolina…and found he couldn’t get a bed in any of the good hotels. He went to the bad hotels and finally the flophouses, but there was no room for him in any of the inns reserved for white folks, in that southern city, so at last, in desperation, he applied to a Negro hotel where he was accepted with the proviso that he would consent to share a double room with another guest. In rueful gratitude, this white man paid his bill left a call for early in the morning, he rested well, quite undisturbed by the proximity of the sleeping colored man beside him, and he was awakened at the hour of his request. After breakfast, he left for the railway station where he boarded his appointed train, but the conductor would not let him into any of the regular coaches. The man was told quite rudely to go where he belonged, the Jim Crow car. The hero of this funny story allowed he hadn’t washed in the morning, and the dust of travel must be responsible for the conductor’s grievous social miscalculation. He went to the washroom, he started to clean his hands.
They were black. An even hued black. Then he looked into the mirror. His face was the same color. He not only looked darker than white, he was quite visibly a Negro. A great oath precedes the final line which is presumed to be the funny part of this little anecdote: “I know what’s happened,” are the next words of the man. “It’s very simple.” “They woke up the wrong man!”
I left the teller of this tale in the coffee shop, but I found I couldn’t leave the tale itself. Like the affidavit I read at the start of the broadcast, it seems to have become a permanent part of my mental luggage. I sketched in my imagination a sequel to the stranger’s funny joke. I saw the man of business who’d gone to bed a white man getting into an argument with a conductor, I saw a policeman boarding a train at the next station, and taking the man of business out on the platform, and beating the eyes out of his head, because the man thought he should be treated with the same respect he’d received the day before when he was white. I saw a man at the police station trying to make him take a drink, so the medical authorities could testify that he was drunk. I saw the man of business bleeding in his cell. Reaching out with sightless hands through unseen bars, gesturing for help that would not, could not ever come. And I heard his explanation echoing down the stone hallways of the jail: “I know what’s happened, it’s very simple.” “They woke up the wrong man.”

Now it seems the officer of the law who blinded the young Negro boy in the affidavit has not been named. The boy saw him while he could still see, but of course he had no way of knowing which particular policeman it was. Who brought the justice of Dachau and Oswiecim to Aiken, South Carolina. He was just another white man with a stick, who wanted to teach a Negro boy a lesson – to show a Negro boy where he belonged: In the darkness. Till we know more about him, for just now, we’ll call the policeman Officer X. He might be listening to this. I hope so. Officer X, I’m talking to you. Officer X, they woke up the wrong man. That somebody else, that man sleeping there, is you. The you that god brought into the world. All innocent of hate, a paid up resident member of the brotherhood of man. Yes. Unbelievably enough, that’s you, Officer X. You. Still asleep. That you could have been anything, it could have gone to the White House when it grew up. It could have gone to heaven when it died. But they woke up the wrong man. They finally came for him in the blank grey of dawn, as in the death house they come for the condemned. But without prayers. They came with instructions. The accumulated ignorance of the feudal south. And with this particular briefing they called Cain, for another day of the devil’s work. While Abel slept. Wash your hands, Officer X. Wash them well. Scrub and scour, you won’t blot out the blood of a blinded war veteran. Nor yet the color of your skin. Your own skin. You’ll never, never change it. Wash your hands, Officer X. Wash a lifetime, you’ll never wash away that leprous lack of pigment. The guilty pallor of the white man.

We invite you to luxuriate in secrecy, it will be brief. Go on. Suckle your anonymous moment while it lasts. You’re going to be uncovered! We will blast out your name! We’ll give the world your given name, Officer X. Yes, and your so-called Christian name. It’s going to rise out of the filthy deep like the dead thing it is. We’re going to make it public with the public scandal you dictated, but failed to sign. (...)

Officer X may languish in jail. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible he’ll serve as long a term as a Negro would serve in Aiken, South Carolina, for stealing bread. But Officer X will never pay for the two eyes he beat out of the soldier’s head. How can you assay the gift of sight? What are they quoting today for one eye? An eye for an eye? A literal reading of this Mosaic law spells out again only the blank waste of vengeance. We’ve told Officer X that he’ll be dragged out of hiding. We’ve promised him a most unflattering glare of publicity. We’re going to keep that promise. We’re going to build our own police line-up to line up this reticent policeman, with the killers, the lunatics, the beastmen, all the people of society’s zoo. Where he belongs. If he’s listening to this, let him listen well. Officer X. After I’ve found you out, I’ll never lose you. If they try you, I’m going to watch the trial. If they jail you, I’m going to wait for your first day of freedom. You won’t be free of me. I want to see who’s waiting for you at the prison gates. I want to know who will acknowledge that they know you. I’m interested in your future. I will take careful note of all your destinations. Assume another name and I will be careful that the name you would forget is not forgotten. I will find means to remove from you all refuge, Officer X. You can’t get rid of me. We have an appointment, you and I. And only death can cancel it.

Who am I? A masked avenger from the comic books? No sir, merely an inquisitive citizen of America. I admit that nothing on this inhabited earth is capable of your chastisement. I’m simply but quite actively curious to know what will become of you. Your fate cannot affect the boy in the country hospital for the blind, but your welfare is a measure of the welfare of my country. I cannot call it your country. How long will you get along in these United States? Which of the states will consent to get along with you? Where stands the sun of common fellowship? When will it rise over your dark country? When will it be noon in Georgia? I must know where you go, Officer X, because I must know where the rest of us are going with our American experiment. Into bankruptcy? Or into that serene tomorrow, that plenteous garden that blind soldier hoped for when he had his eyes, and with eyes open, he went to war. We want a world that will lighten his darkness. You’re sorry for him? He rejects your pity. You’re ashamed? He doesn’t care. We want to tell him soon that all America is ashamed of you. If there’s room for pity, you can have it, for you are far more blind than he. He had eyes to see and saw with them, they made out if nothing else, at least part of the shape of human dignity, and this is not a little thing, but you have eyes to see and you have never seen.

He has the memory of light. But you were born in a pit. He cannot grow new eyes to open the world again for his poor bruised ones. Never. No. The only word we can share with the martyr to carry him from the county hospital to the county grave is word concerning your eyes, Officer X. Your eyes, remember, were not gouged away. Only the lids are closed. You might raise the lids, you might just try the wild adventure of looking. You might see something, it might be a simple truth. One of those truths held to be self-evident by our founding fathers and most of us. If we should ever find you bravely blinking at the sun, we’ll know then that the world is young after all. That chaos is behind us and not ahead. Then there will be shouting of trumpets to rouse the dead at Gettysburg. A thunder of cannon will declare the tidings of peace, and all the bells of liberty will laugh out loud in the streets to celebrate goodwill towards all men. The new blind can hear, and it would be very good if they could hear the news that the old blind can finally see them. Officer X, you’ll find that you can wash off what should be washed, and it will be said of you, even you, they awakened the right man. 

Now it’s time to say goodbye. Please let me call again. Next week, same time. Until then, I am always…obediently yours. (Orson Welles)

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images via and via

Saturday 9 October 2021

The Blinding of Isaac Woodard, Jr.

Isaac Woodard, Jr. (1919-1992) joined the US army in 1942, won promotions, earned the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and a battle star for unloading ships under enemy fire. On 12th of February 1946, at 8:30 pm, Sergeant Isaac Woodard, Jr. was discharged from Camp Gordon in Georgia. Still wearing a uniform, he bought a ticket to South Carolina where his wife was waiting for him. He was 26 years old.

Somewhere between Georgia and South Carolina, he asked the driver of the Greyhound bus, Alton Blackwell...

…I asked him if he had time to wait for me until I could go to the rest room. He cursed me and said ‘No’ and I cursed him back. Then he told me, ‘Go ahead and get off and hurry back.’ And I did. When the bus got to Aiken, S.C, about a half an hour later, he stopped again, and got off an went and got the police. He came back and told me to come outside for a minute and I did. As I walked out, the driver started to tell the police that I was the one who was disturbing the bus. But when I started to explain, they wouldn’t let me.

Blackwell told the two police officers Lynwood L. Shull and Elliot Long that Woodard had been disruptive. So, when Woodard exited the bus, the two started beating him across the head with a blackjack, then arrested him and headed to the town's prison. On their way, Woodard failed to call Shull "sir" which was the reason for the violence escalating. Shull struck him repeatedly with the end of his nightstick - about the head and directly into his eye sockets. Only a few hours after his discharge from the army, he was left in the cell semi-conscious, bleeding, not receiving any medical attention ... blinding.

There were charges of him being drunk and disorderly. The judge and mayor H. E. Quarles could not ignore the injuries, neither could the others attending the court. Nevertheless, the judge told him he would be fined 50 dollars or 30 days in prison. Since he only had 44 dollars on him, he was brought back to prison (his criminal conviction remained on the record until 2018). "Some medicine" was poured into his blinded eyes and a hot towel was placed on his head. Later he was taken to hospital.

Captain Arthur Clancy, the attending physician, confirmed that Woodard's vision was "nil" and that there was no treatment. Since both eyes had been damaged leaving him permanently disabled, it was obvious that Shull's claim that he had struck Woodard only once needed to be reconsidered. Woodard had to remain in hospital for two months. After his release, he lived a life with constant pain and dependence.  

Shull was charged with the violation of Woodard's right to be secure and not to be beaten. It took the all-white jury 28 minutes to acquit Shull, the courtroom erupted in cheers. 

"Nobody in America should have to go through second class citizenship. Me and a whole lot of Black guys went out fighting for the American cause, now we’re gonna have to get America to give us our civil rights too. We earned them." Isaac Woodard, Jr.

When President Harry S. Truman was told about Woodard's blinding, he stood up exclaiming: "My God! I had no idea it was as terrible as that! We've got to do something!" Truman created a presidential commission on civil rights and signed an executive order creating the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services and calling for desegregation of the US military (via and via).

"I spent three-and-a-half years in the service of my country and thought that I would be treated like a man when I returned to civilian life, but I was mistaken." Isaac Woodard, Jr. 

"People should learn how to live with one another and how to treat one another. Because after all, we all are human beings, regardless of color." Isaac Woodard Jr.

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photograph via

Friday 8 October 2021

Socio-Spatial Discrimination

Theoretically, public spaces are spaces for all. Practically, some are included while others are excluded. As a result, public spaces are biased towards a great many groups of people living in cities.

In his publications, Don Mitchell discusses how groups of the "Other" such as, for instance, both the state and semi-public and private interests eliminate the  homeless instead of focusing on the conditions causing homelessness. Actions in public need to conform to the dictates of the so-called normal or hegemonic society while at the same time cultural battles such as gay kiss-ins and public breast feeding are fought in the streets (Galanakis, 2008).

"It is often assumed that public space in the urban context is the common ground where people carry out shared functional and ritual activities, giving a sense of community. However appealing this may seem, in contemporary societies with an increasing awareness of diversity the term community, as well as citizenship and public space, are widely and rightfully challenged."

"Spatial design and management influence the affordance of urban public space, allowing and/or resisting the expression of the 'public face' of certain groups of stake holders, such as transnational people. These groups are often perceived as part of the 'other' in the city."

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- Galanakis, M. (2008). Space Unjust: Socio-Spatial Discrimination in Urban Public Space - Cases from Helsinki and Athens; link
- photograph by Diane Arbus via

Thursday 7 October 2021

"That is what I love: the differentness."

"There are and have been and will be an infinite number of things on Earth. Individuals all different, all wanting different things, all knowing different things, all loving different things, all looking different… . That is what I love: the differentness."
Diane Arbus

photograph "Young Man and his Pregnant Wife in Washington Square Park", NYC, 1965, © The Estate of Diane Arbus) via

Monday 4 October 2021

United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing: 2021-2030

"To foster healthy ageing and improve the lives of older people and their families and communities, fundamental shifts will be required not only in the actions we take but in how we think about age and ageing." (WHO)

Four areas of action are addressed: combatting ageism, creating age-friendly environments, ensuring integrated care and long-term care. 


Ageism affects how we think, feel and act towards others and ourselves based on age. It imposes powerful barriers to the development of good policies and programmes for older and younger people, and has profound negative consequences on older adults’ health and well-being. WHO is working together with key partners on a Global Campaign to Combat Ageism—an initiative supported by WHO's 194 Member States. The Campaign aims to change the narrative around age and ageing and help create a world for all ages. (liteerally via)

Age-friendly environments: 

Health and well-being are determined not only by our genes and personal characteristics but also by the physical and social environments in which we live our lives. Environments play an important role in determining our physical and mental capacity across a person’s life course and into older age and also how well we adjust to loss of function and other forms of adversity that we may experience at different stages of life, and in particular in later years. Both older people and the environments in which they live are diverse, dynamic and changing. In interaction with each other they hold incredible potential for enabling or constraining Healthy Ageing. (literally via)

Integrated care:

Older people require non-discriminatory access to good-quality essential health services that include prevention, promotion, curative, rehabilitative, palliative and end-of-life care, safe, affordable, effective, good-quality essential medicines and vaccines, dental care and health and assistive technologies, while ensuring that use of these services does not cause the user financial hardship. (literally via)

Long-term care 

Older people continue to have aspirations to well-being and respect regardless of declines in physical and mental capacity. Long-term-care systems enable older people, who experience significant declines in capacity, to receive the care and support that allow them to live a life consistent with their basic rights, fundamental freedoms and human dignity. These services can also help reduce the inappropriate use of acute health-care services, help families avoid catastrophic care expenditures and free women – usually the main caregivers – to have broader social roles. While global data on the need and unmet need for long-term care do not exist, national-level data reveal large gaps in the provision of and access to such services in many low- and middle-income countries. (literally via)

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photograph by Gundula Schulze Eldowy via

Friday 1 October 2021

Huey P. Newton: "sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet."

"We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the woman or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have." Here is the full speech held by Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panthers, at a Black Panther rally in New York City on 15th of August 1970.

During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some uncertainty about how to relate to these movements. 

Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. 

I say ”whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with. 

We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the white racists use against our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the poorest white person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm. 

Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society. 

And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that I don’t understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don’t know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants. 

That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn’t view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I’m now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that “even a homosexual can be a revolutionary.” Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary. 

When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women’s liberation movement. Some groups might be more revolutionary than others. We should not use the actions of a few to say that they are all reactionary or counter-revolutionary, because they are not. 

We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any other group or party that claims to be revolutionary. We should try to judge, somehow, whether they are operating in a sincere revolutionary fashion and from a really oppressed situation. (And we will grant that if they are women they are probably oppressed.) If they do things that are unrevolutionary or counter-revolutionary, then criticize that action. 

If we feel that the group in spirit means to be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation of the revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them because they are women trying to be free. And the same is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women’s liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible.  

We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have about homosexuality. When I say “insecurities,” I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this fear. Because of the long conditioning process which builds insecurity in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other hand, I have no hang-up about female homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not. 

We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our friends off. The terms “faggot” and “punk” should be deleted from our vocabulary, and especially we should not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people, such as [Richard] Nixon or [John] Mitchell. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people. 

We should try to form a working coalition with the gay liberation and women’s liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most appropriate manner. And this is really a significant part of the population, both women, and the growing number of homosexuals that we have to deal with. 


Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panthers

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