Tuesday 30 November 2021

Do Butterflies Remember Being Caterpillars?

Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli is the breakdancing star at the heart of this film. Born with a neuromuscular disorder, he has spent decades finding new and innovative ways to participate in dance. Usually incorporating scrutches into his routines, Patuelli invents adapts breakdancing moves that harness his upper body strength.

Caraz is a rising director based in Montreal. With a background in photography, he explores striking, powerful characters set in diverse worlds. Her ability to create highly crafted aesthetics with an emotional approach gives her films not only a sense of style but also personality.

Born in Italy, Alessandro Giaquinto is this movie’s choreographer and a dancer for The Stuttgart Ballet. (literally via).

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image via

Monday 29 November 2021

Saul Steinberg. A Genius Facing Antisemitism.

Romania is an anti-Semitic country, as Saul finds out when he moves to the capital with his family. His scholastic career in the Liceu Matei Basarab in Bucharest would be made difficult by this climate. After enrolling in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, in 1933 he decides to study architecture but is not admitted: there is a limit to the number of Jewish students. Years later he would write: "My childhood, my adoslescence in Romania were a bit like being a Negro in the State of Mississippi" (Reflections and shadows, 2001). (literally from the exhibition at the Triennale Milano currently showing Saul Steinberg's works)

Saul Steinberg was born on 15th June 1914 in Ramnicu Sarat, a small town north of Bucharest, in Romania. His parents, Moritz Steinberg and Rosa Iacobson, belonged to the Jewish middle class. In 1915 the family moved to Bucharest and Moritz set up a bookbinding shop and then began to produce decorative boxes. Some of the family had already emigrated to America in the late nineteenth century. In 1925, Saul enrolled in the Liceu Matei Basarab and three years later graduated to its upper school. Having gained his diploma in 1932, he enrolled in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Bucharest. He received good grades but the university's anti-Semitic atmosphere kept him from regularly attending courses. (text from exhibition, Triennale Milano)

In 1933, he applied for admission to the Faculty of Architecture but was denied entrance because a quota system limited the number of Jewish students who could be accepted. Instead, he went to Milan and enrolled in the Faculty of Architecture of the Regio Politecnico, arriving in the city in November. (...) But in 1938 the Fascist regime promulgated racial laws and Steinberg risked expulsion from Italy. He was able, however, to complete his studies in 1940, but his efforts to leave Italy for the US failed. After various ups and downs, including being arrested and confined in an internment camp, he managed to leave for Santo Domingo, where he spent a year waiting for a US visa. He finally arrived in New Yorsk in July 1942. (...) (text from exhibition, Triennale Milano)

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photographs via and via

Sunday 28 November 2021

Quoting Gilberto Gil

"I think that the global consciousness concerning all those elements that produce tension, fractions of societies, is changing in the sense that we all tend to understand a little more the needs for harmonizing the process and integrating races and cultures and producing multiculturalism and different melting-pot situations. That affects global things, tolerating the Arab, the African, the Eastern civilizations, getting rid of this hegemonic dominance by the West. That's all comprehensive now in terms both of understanding and approaching the whole planet."
Gilberto Gil

"Sometimes, from outside, and from America especially, where the racial tension is so intense, you tend to understand Brazil as a kind of ideal situation, but it's not. There are a lot of problems. Historically, we have been in struggle, in real struggle to protect and defend the natural leaning towards absorbing the African and the Indian heritage that our society has." 
Gilberto Gil

"We are sufficiently conscious of this dimension or quality of Brazil as a melting pot, as a culture and a nation that is being subjected to an amalgamating process. More than just a mixing process, it is an amalgamation where the fragments, the parts in collision, really interact profoundly. They become another thing after the contact." 
Gilberto Gil

photographs via and via

Friday 26 November 2021

What I am, what you force me to be is what you are. By Gordon Parks.

For I am you, staring back from a mirror of poverty and despair, of revolt and freedom. Look at me and know that to destroy me is to destroy yourself. You are weary of the long hot summers. I am tired of the long hungered winters. We are not so far apart as it might seem. There is something about both of us that goes deeper than blood or black or white. It is our common search for a better life, a better world. I march now over the same ground you onced marched. I fight for the same things you still fight for. My children's needs are the same as your children's. I too am America. America is me. It gave me the only life I know - so I must share in its survival. Look at me. Listen to me. Try to understand my struggle against your racism. There is yet a chance for us to live in peace beneath these restless skies. Gordon Parks

photograph of Norman Fontenelle by Gordon Parks (1967) via

Thursday 25 November 2021

The Art World. Sharing the Same Prejudices We Face in the Real World.

"When one thinks of the art world, one thinks of a place of openness and tolerance -- yet that is hardly the case. The ‘art world’ shares the same prejudice we face in the real world. That said, the illusion of togetherness that has been constructed around the art world makes said reality even more toxic. Forms of sexism, racism, and ageism dominate art culture just under the surface -- which dictates our collective knowledge of art history. This is a topic that few gallery owners want to discuss -- because it is a topic that, more often than not, reveals a world of bigotry and unnecessary challenges placed before artists." Brian Sherwin

photograph of Silvana Mangano by Eve Arnold (1956) via

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Ageism. Prevalent. Unrecognised. Unchallenged.

 ... also widespread and accepted. Ageism is there, everywhere. Age determines who receives medical procedures, treatments, lifesaving therapies, who is disadvantaged in the workplace, who has access to specialised training and education. Ageism leads to poorer health and earlier deaths, it causes social isolation, reduces quality of life and costs economies billions. Nevertheless, every second person in the world holds ageist attitudes (United Nations, 2021).

Ageism is also costly:

Ageism costs our societies billions of dollars. In the United States of America (USA), a 2020 study showed ageism in the form of negative age stereotypes and self-perceptions led to excess annual costs of US$63 billion for the eight most expensive health conditions. This amounts to US$1 in every US$7 spent on these conditions for all Americans over the age of 60 for one year (see note to editors). 

Estimates in Australia suggest that if 5 per cent more people aged 55 or older were employed, there would be a positive impact of AUD$48 billion on the national economy annually. There are currently limited data and information on the economic costs of ageism and more research is needed to better understand its economic impact, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. (United Nations, 2021)

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photograph by Diane Arbus via

Tuesday 23 November 2021

Television Portrayals, Ethnic Stereotypes and Guilt Ratings

Abstract: An experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis that stereotypical television portrayals of African-Americans increase the likelihood that whites will make negative social perception judgments of an African-American (but not a white) target person. Forty white subjects were exposed to comedy skits featuring stereotypical or netural portrayals of African-American characters. Subjects then read a vignette describing an incident in which a college student was allegedly assaulted by his rommate. In half of the conditions, the alleged offender was assumed to be white; in the other half he was assumed to be African-American. 

Subjects rated the likelihood that the alleged offender was guilty of the assault. Guilt ratings of the white target did not differ significantly between the stereotypical and the neutral comedy skit conditions. In contrast, guilt ratings of the African-American target were higher in the stereotypical comedy skit condition than in the neutral comedy skit condition. (Ford, 1997)

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- Ford, T. E. (1997). Effects of Stereotypical Television Portrayals of African-Americans on Person Perception. Social Psychology Quarterly, 60(3), 266-275.
- photograph by Pierre Verger via

Monday 22 November 2021

Gazing up at the poorest of the poor. Pierre Verger

“I started traveling, not so much driven by a desire to do ethnographic research or journalistic reports, but rather as a result of the need to distance myself, to free myself and escape the environment in which I had been living until then, whose prejudices and rules of conduct did not make me happy.” 
Pierre Verger, 1982

Pierre Edouard Leopold Verger (1902-1996) was a French photographer and researcher born in Paris into a bourgeois family. In 1932, he discovered photography and travelling, a combination that changed his life. Verger travelled around the world and, after disembarking in Brazil, decided to stay there (via) 

Verger traveled extensively during his long career, but his central focus was the exploration and visual depiction of the enduring continuities linking peoples and cultures of West Africa and the African Diaspora. Over the course of five decades, he took an estimated 65,000 black-and-white photographs with his Rolleiflex camera, depicting individuals and groups in humanistic, light-drenched portraits. In his approach to photography, he placed great emphasis on documenting the beauty of the human form as encountered in scenes of everyday life. In large part, his intention was to counter racism and all-too-prevalent derogatory representations of Africans and peoples of African-descent in the Americas. (via)

Verger turned toward his subjects, his photographs differed from etchnographical approaches "based on measured gestures and the obscene gaze directed at the object being photographed". In fact, he had an aversion to voyeurism and made sure that even when photographing the poorest of the poor, they maintained their personality and dignity. He captured them from an ascending camera angle which reflected his own gaze, i.e. gazing up at them and giving them a heroic aura (via).

Unlike the friends also ethnologists from the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, Roger Bastide and Alfred Métraux, who often gave him their texts to correct, Verger’s approach was deliberately undetached. He was the opposite of an aloof observer; he never used the lens of his camera as a partition between the observed object and the subject being interpreted. Moreover, his almost obsessive attempts to escape the middle-class milieu, and to subject himself to extreme situations, prompted him to always see himself as a part of his own experimental arrangement. There was method in his empathy. He never saw sympathy and shock as obstacles; they were the motivating forces of his understanding that enabled him to place himself in the position of the other; to overcome ethnic, social and epistemological barriers, and to experience in this way – recalling Rimbaud – oneself as the other: “To be honest, I’m only marginally interested in ethnography. I don’t want to study people as if they were just beetles or exotic plants. On my journeys, what I like is living with people and learning their different lifestyles. That’s because I’ve always been interested in what I never was, or in what I could be with others.” (via)

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photographs via and via and via

Sunday 21 November 2021

The Gendered Nature of Divorce

Abstract: Contrary to previous studies treating divorce as a couple's decision, we make a distinction between 'his', 'her', and 'their' divorce by using information about who initiated divorce. Using competing risk analysis, we re-examine four well-known determinants of divorce: (i) the wife's employment, (ii) the financial situation of the household, (iii) the presence of children, and (iv) the quality of the match. Because existing arguments on the underlying mechanisms focus on the relative costs and benefits of a divorce for the wife, the husband and/or the couple, this approach offers new insights into the validity of competing theories.

Our results confirm some theoretical interpretations, but they refute others. Furthermore, our findings shed light on the gendered nature of divorce. We not only find that women more often take the initiative to divorce, we also find that many social and economic determinants have stronger effects on 'her' divorce than on 'his' divorce. The one exception is children, which seem to affect men's decision to (not) divorce more strongly than women's decision. (Kalmijn & Poortman, 2006)

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- Kalmijn, M. & Poortman, A.-R. (2006). His or Her Divorce? The Gendered Nature of Divorce. European Social Review, 22(2), 201-214.
- photograph by Diane Arbus via

Saturday 20 November 2021

Black Awareness Day

On 20th of November, Black Awareness Day is celebrated in Brazil in order to make sure the journey and cirumstances of the black community's ancestors are not forgotten and their contribution to both the country and society are recognised. 20th of November was chosen because it marks the death of Zumbi dos Palmares (born 1655), a Brazilian of Kongo origin and one of the pioneers fighting slavery (via).

After more than 300 years of slavery, Brazil abolished slavery only in 1888, it was the last country in the Western Hemisphere to do so despite its mostly black and mixed population which again was and is a result of Portuguese settlers having been primarily male and often seeking out African or indigenous femals as mates. Brazil was also the largest importer of African slaves "bringing in seven times as many African slaves to the country, compared to the United States" (via).

"Miscegenation and intermarriage suggest fluid race relations and, unlike the United States or South Africa, there were no racially-specific laws or policies, such as on segregation or apartheid, throughout the twentieth century. For these reasons, Brazilians thought of their country as a "racial democracy" from as early as the 1930s until recent years. They believed that racism and racial discrimination were minimal or non-existent in Brazilian society in contrast to the other multiracial societies in the world. A relatively narrow view of discrimination previously recognized only explicit manifestations of racism or race-based laws as discriminatory, thus only countries like South Africa and the United States were seen as truly racist. Moreover, there was little formal discussion of race in Brazilian society, while other societies were thought to be obsessed with race and racial difference." (via)

"At the time of the abolition, Brazil's population was mostly black or mixed race until the 1930s, when Brazil encouraged and received a large number of European immigrants as it sought to find new sources of labour. In the context of the scientific racism of the time, which deemed a non-white population as problematic to its future development, Brazilian officials explicitly encouraged European immigration while blocking Chinese and African immigrants. The growing population of European origin was also expected to mix with the non-white, further "whitening" the Brazilian population." (via)

"More than just a celebration, it is a day to think about the position that Black people have in society then and now. The past generations who have suffered (and still suffer) through racist acts, despite the abolition of slavery in 1888, discrimination still continues. It’s a day dedicated to fight racism and defend Black people’s rights and respect in society." (via).

photographs by Pierre Verger via and via and via and via and via

Thursday 18 November 2021

Feeling nostalgic for a time we didn't even have

"We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species. There's no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It's not seen as a gift. Something happened culturally: No one is supposed to age past 45 — sartorially, cosmetically, attitudinally. Everybody dresses like a teenager. Everybody dyes their hair. Everybody is concerned about a smooth face. I feel nostalgic for a time I didn't even have. The time before we regarded ourselves with such criticism."
Frances McDormand

photograph (Vogue) via

Wednesday 17 November 2021


"One's own identity is what we would all like to be clear today, but the economic and political crises and the current state of culture make identities and definitions of our age increasingly distorted. 
Through weapons i want to express the feeling of fear that one's identity is threatened by stranger and by the unknown.

The defense of your identity and the fear of losing it, that i show in my work, are the core nucleus of the new global values: the fear that raises the barriers and calls to arms, is the same fear that ends up becoming the only stable reference to identify yourself or try to get away from it.

I want to specify that people portrayed in my pictures are holding their own weapons, used for the purposes of sport only.

The whole project was shot on medium format film."

Francesco Pizzo

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photographs by Francesco Pizzo via

Tuesday 16 November 2021

The Intersection of Stuttering and Blackness

"I have an ongoing practice of spelling my name JJJJJerome Ellis in certain circumstances. I do this because the word I stutter on most frequently is my name. You can choose which spelling you prefer." 
JJJJJerome Ellis

JJJJJerome Ellis is a black stutterer and artist based in New York. He is interested in how ableism disadvantages people with a stutter since they do not adhere to the flows of time. This disfluency, to him, becomes "a means to exist outside of ordinary time, as defined by a white-dominated world." His work is an approach to experimenting with freedom and to depathologising disfluency (via)

I was interested in the role that clocks and watches played o-o-on plantations in the antebellum south. How slave masters deliberately did not let enslaved people own [them], as a way o-o-of domination and control.

"On the album, I feel safe stuttering because it's just me. I have the opportunity to score my own stutter. That felt very liberating." JJJJJerome Ellis

This article argues that dysfluency, music and Blackness, because of their distinct relationships to time, have the power to forge alternative temporalities and help us heal from ‘temporal subjection’. As a Black composer who stutters, I write from first-hand experience. With reference to my own recordings and scores, I examine the ways I use musical techniques like loops and rubato to create these alternative temporalities. Stuttering (especially in the form I present with, the glottal block) creates unpredictable, silent gaps in speech. I call these gaps ‘clearings’. Slaves sang in the fields, and whites heard them; but they also sang (and danced) in the woods at night, out of earshot. Undergirding the clearing created by my stutter is that other clearing, in the woods, where my enslaved ancestors stole away to keep healing, resisting and liberating through music ‐ work that I continue today.
"Sometimes people just walk away. Perhaps because I didn’t adhere to t-t-the choreography t-t-that we are often used to. So much of the pain comes from not feeling fully human. Not feeling intelligent. People thinking that I might be evading a question. I don’t want my Blackness to come off as a threat and I don’t want my stuttering to come off as evidence of lying.”

YouTube Selection:
::: Loops of Retreat: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Stepney: LISTEN/WATCH
::: Dysfluent Waters: LISTEN/WATCH

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photograph via

Monday 15 November 2021

Somewhere along the line, music and photography picked me up.

People experiencing homelessness are often invisible, pitied, turned into "the other". In order to start new conversations, bring change, and let those struggling know that they are not alone, the CALM  1854 Homeless Truths commission was launched by the UK-based charity Campaign Against Living Miserably inviting homeless people to shoot how they feel and share these authentic views. Wayne - who started taking pictures eight years ago - is one of the participants. To him, taking pictures meant "a nicer view" and a way to escape himself. 80% of the homeless report struggling with mental health problems, suicide is the second most common cause of death. Wayne has been battling depression and anxiety for years, at times he feels suicidal (via).

"I just want my images out there. Being homeless and not having a family unit, or people to help you, can create depression and push people further away from society. Perhaps people might see this and recognise a friend experiencing something similar and reach out to them." Wayne

"Lots of things were not going well for me at the time but it helped to take out a camera. Some of the pictures remind me that I need to ignite the fire within me to survive. Mentally, I am in a very nervous and scared place right now. No day is ever easy." Wayne

"I guess my interest in photography comes from not being able to communicate." Wayne

"When I take photographs, I think about something other than being homeless or wanting to use.” Wayne

"I was trying to show survival, whatever that looks like. The struggle and how I get by day-to-day; how I maintain my humanity." Wayne

"I look just like a normal person, so in a way that brings a normality to it. It makes it easy for people to forget. But I want people to know – especially those living in London – that these are the problems that people are facing. It is very real.” Wayne

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photographs via

Sunday 14 November 2021

Just ready to start

"And now, I feel at 85, I really feel that I'm just ready to start."
Gordon Parks

photograph via

Saturday 13 November 2021

World Kindness Day + Two Abstracts

This article discusses how loving-kindness can be used to treat traumatized refugees and minority groups, focusing on examples from our treatment, culturally adapted cognitive-behavioral therapy (CA-CBT). To show how we integrate loving-kindness with other mindfulness interventions and why loving-kindness should be an effective therapeutic technique, we present a typology of mindfulness states and the Nodal Network Model (NNM) of Affect and Affect Regulation. We argue that mindfulness techniques such as loving-kindness are therapeutic for refugees and minority populations because of their potential for increasing emotional flexibility, decreasing rumination, serving as emotional regulation techniques, and forming part of a new adaptive processing mode centered on psychological flexibility. We present a case to illustrate the clinical use of loving-kindness within the context of CA-CBT. (Hinton et al., 2013)

Respect and kindness are core principles of nursing practice, yet little is known about how they are experienced by nursing home (NH) residents at the end of life. The aim of this study was to examine the factors associated with being treated with respect and kindness in the last month of life as an NH resident. A retrospective survey of 208 bereaved family members was conducted in 21 NHs located in a city in central Canada. The majority of participants indicated that the resident had always been treated with respect or kindness. However, significant differences emerged, with not all family members believing that their loved one had always been treated with respect or kindness. The apparent lapses in care practices are troubling and indicate that steps must be taken to address them.​ (Thompson et al., 2011)

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- Hinton, D. E, Ojserkis, R. A., Jalal, B., Peou, S. & Hofmann, S. G. (2013). Loving-kindness in the treatment of traumatized refugees and minority groups: a typology of mindfulness and the nodal network model of affect and affect regulation. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(8), 817-828.
- Thompson, G. N., McClement, S. E. & Chochinov, H. M. (2011). How respect and kindness are experienced at the end of life by nursing home residents. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 43(3), 96-118.
- photograph (Steve McQueen with his son Chad on the set of Le Mans, 1971) via

Friday 12 November 2021

The "long, hot summer" of 1967 (2)

On the evening of July 12, 1967, I was driving a carload of people back from a black power conference in Philadelphia, switching stations, trying to find some good music to keep me awake on the New Jersey Turnpike. A news flash caught my attention, loud and clear: 
“There has been a confrontation between police and a large number of people in the city of Newark…Police have declared a curfew…Police are out in force.”

I didn’t need music to keep me focused. We just had to get home. 

Fifty years later, I ask myself why I was in such a hurry to get back to Newark. At the time, I was a 22-year-old student at Yale Law School, spending my third summer as a community organizer and law-student advocate in Newark. I was raised in Richmond, Virginia, but Newark felt like my new home. Now my home was about to fulfill a prophecy.  

For weeks, black people had been saying the community was ready to explode. I heard it in bars and at neighborhood meetings. I heard it from speakers protesting the two hot issues of the day: Mayor Hugh Addonizio’s plan to build a medical and dental school on 150 acres in the Central Ward that would displace 20,000 mostly black and Puerto Rican residents; and the mayor’s decision to place James Callaghan, a white man with a high school diploma, in the position of board secretary (business administrator) for the Newark public schools, instead of Wilbur Parker, the first black CPA in New Jersey. “Keep this shit up and there’s gonna be a riot in Newark!” was the word on the street. (Applause meter off the charts; everybody agreed.) 

Most people didn’t want a riot, and even fewer had a sense of what to do if one broke out. But they knew it was coming. They knew about Birmingham in 1963, Harlem in 1964 and Watts in 1965. They knew about the death and destruction. Many wondered: Was it worth it? Some were too mad to care. 

So here I was, driving back into Newark late at night. I had no intention of burning or looting, or shooting police—not even the cops whose racism I had seen in action. I was totally committed to nonviolent resistance, by training if not by disposition. (...)

Most accounts of the Newark Rebellion—and I call it a rebellion—say the arrest and beating of John Smith, a black cab driver, triggered the outbreak of violence. Hundreds witnessed Smith being dragged into the 4th Precinct police station in front of the Hayes Homes, a high-rise housing project. Rumors spread that Smith had been killed while in custody. Local civil rights leaders tried to form a march downtown in protest. But as the crowd grew in front of the Hayes Homes, someone lit a bottle filled with gasoline and threw it at the police station. Cops poured out of the station in riot gear to drive off the protesters. As the crowd dispersed, looting broke out on nearby streets. The Rebellion was on. 

Why do I call the events of July 12 to 17 a rebellion rather than a riot? Riots are mindless, aimless, spontaneous outbursts triggered by some immediate event. But rebellions, like those waged by Thomas Jefferson and Nat Turner, are the result of long-simmering hurts with no other ways to redress grievances. Looking at the evidence, this was a rebellion. 

The situation in Newark at the time can be explained in two words: racial polarization. Whites held a virtual monopoly on power in Newark, despite token representation of blacks—what are sometimes called “house Negroes”—on the city and county levels. Racial polarization was entrenched. This in a city that, at the time, was 52 percent black and 10 percent Spanish speaking. 

The increasingly angry black community raised a growing chorus of demands for better opportunities. Repressive measures by the police force (which was 90 percent white) and government agencies like the Board of Education and the Welfare Department increased the hunger for self-determination in the black community. Blacks were the victims of unscrupulous landlords and crooked retailers, and of misguided development programs that turned into land grabs, destroying communities in the name of urban renewal. 

The white population had been flowing steadily out of Newark since the 1950s. Jobs were leaving, too. (...) 

On the second night of the Rebellion, I was driving around with three guys in my car. (...)

I was climbing up the hill on Court Street, heading west toward the Scudder Homes, when I heard the siren. It was a hot night; the windows of my white Ford Fairlane 500 were down. We neared the corner of High Street—now Martin Luther King Boulevard—when I picked up the whirling lights of a Newark police car in my rearview mirror. The siren was getting closer. They were coming for us.  

I pulled over to the grassy divider in the middle of Court Street. The squad car sped forward, angling in front of me, presumably to prevent our escape. Four cops jumped out, guns drawn, and ordered us out of the car with our hands up. One of them had a shotgun. 

We stepped from the car as directed. One of the cops yelled, “Up against the car, motherfuckers.” The street was deserted. We knew we were in big trouble. 

I had never before looked down the wrong end of a shotgun. It seemed like it was looking back at me. I turned and assumed the position, hands on the roof of my car, legs spread wide. 

The pat-down produced no weapons. Still, these guys were scary. One cop ordered me to open my trunk, which I did without hesitation. I thought about my Virginia plates. It was popularly held in government and law-enforcement circles that, when unrest came to Newark, it would be fueled by “outside agitators,” who would supply guns and ammunition. (...) 

It is hard to explain to anyone who was not there the climate of resistance in the streets during the 1960s. People organized to withhold rent from landlords who overcharged for slum properties; they demonstrated against welfare bureaucrats who punished their clients for violating the “man in the house” rule, which said families could not get public assistance if there was an able-bodied man in the household. People boycotted retail merchants who sold bad meat and schools that failed to properly educate children. People demonstrated against poorly managed, overcrowded public housing, and against rampant urban renewal that gobbled up residential neighborhoods without providing adequate replacement housing. And of course, they spoke out against police brutality.  

The ordinary democratic processes didn’t work for black people. All that was left was the politics of confrontation. Up to 1967, those confrontations had been nonviolent. (...)  

On another corner, across from the Morton Street School, Central Ward Democratic leader Eulis “Honey” Ward and I watched as local residents ran into the furniture stores on Springfield Avenue. Out they came with sofas, chairs, lamps—whatever they could carry. They hauled their goods up flights of stairs and came back down with worn-out, dilapidated furniture, leaving it on the sidewalks for the trash collector. What Ward and I couldn’t see was the deliberate removal of credit records from the filing cabinets in these stores. Without these records, the merchants wouldn’t be able to find people who had bought on credit. 

Not all white merchants were targeted. Those with a reputation for fairness were spared—although this message was not always easy to communicate to passing looters. The few black merchants wrote “soul brother” on their windows or doors to avoid the riotous invasion or the torch. On South Orange Avenue, neighbors wrote those words outside a shop owned by a Chinese merchant they wanted to protect from looters. But they couldn’t protect him from the police. The next morning, the merchant discovered bullet holes in his shop. Law-enforcement officers were singling out stores that appeared to be black owned for their own brand of retaliation and lawlessness. (...) Junius Williams

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photographs via

Thursday 11 November 2021

The "long, hot summer" of 1967 (1)

In 1967 alone, there were 167 uprisings in US-American cities, the largest ones in Newark (New Jersey) and Detroit. The uprising - or rebellion as it was called by local residents - in Newark took place from 12th to 17th of July with at least 26 people being killed (via).

On 12th of July 1967, John Smith, a black taxi driver, was stopped and beat by two police officers. Activists were organising a picket line to the City Hall when the rumour spread that Smith was dead. The anger increased, people did not want to listen to their leaders preaching non-violence. "Someone threw a firebomb. The Newark riots had begun." (via), the streets "exploded in violence" (via). State troopers and the army stepped in but the atmosphere of fear only grew (via).

A commission was created to study the reasons that led to the riot, the major causes mentioned were discrimination, police brutality, unemployment, inadequate housing (also discriminatory real estate practices, housing projects) and education. 

The population hit 450,000 in 1948, then ebbed as whites, who could get mortgages, moved to the suburbs. Twenty thousand manufacturing jobs disappeared between 1950 and 1967. (via)

Black political power was practically absent, particularly in the schools. School board members were all white despite the very fact that blacks and Latinos represented the majority of the student population. The state of educational crisis was pointed out, third graders were reading at two grade levels, the dropout rate was rather high. A shortage of teachers and dilapidated buildings were further problems. Schools were chronically underfunded. By the mid-1960s public schools did "not have the physical space to educate every Newark student". As a result, the black community was policitally marginalised despite being the majority of the population. Things started changing in the 1970s when Newark had a black mayor, a majority-black school board, a city council with black members, more resources for schools, and when courts ruled that New Jersey's funding system was unconstitutional because it failed to provide students from poorer districts, i.e., black students, an efficent education . But the problems are still there. Newark, today, is one of the United States' poorest cities with one third of residents living below the poverty line (via).

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photographs via and via and via 

Wednesday 10 November 2021

The -ism Series (37): Mammy-ism

Abstract: AfricanAmerican women can experience some feelings of self-hatred to the extent that they evaluate and then devalue their physical characteristics (facial features, skin color, hair texture, personal behaviors) referencing beauty standards set by European Americans who imbue White supremacy. These same Black women may find themselves acting out certain behaviors in historically defined and ascribed roles dictated by individual and institutionalized racism, roles that help to maintain the dependency and oppression of Black women. One such role ascribed to a Black woman is that mammy.

This article addresses the concept of mammy and the maintaining of the mammy cultural image. The diagnosis of Mammy-ism is discussed as an example of one way that AfricanAmerican women historically assume the role and acquiesce to this socially determined inferior status, demonstrate attitudes of self-alienation, and display mental confision. As a result, African social reality and survival thrust are displaced with European social reality and survival thrust. African women who display the above characteristics suffer from the mental disorder of Mammy-ism. The Azibo nosology categorizes Mammy-ism as a subcategory of Psychological Misorientation (genetic Blackness minus psychological Blackness). (Abdullah, 1998)

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- Abdullah, S. S. (1998). Mammy-ism: A Diagnosis of Psychological Misorientation for Women of African Descent. Journal of Black Psychology, 24(2), 196-210.
- photograph via 

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Natural Scarification

"My position has always been that the way people age and the signs that we show of aging is nature's way of tattooing. It's natural scarification, and the life you lead gives you the symbols and the emblems of your life, the road map you followed." 

Monday 8 November 2021

Nobody's perfect

"I bring quadruple diversity to the Senate: I'm a woman; I'll be the first Asian woman ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate; I am an immigrant; I am a Buddhist. When I said this at one of my gatherings, they said, 'Yes, but are you gay?' and I said, 'Nobody's perfect.'" 
Mazie Hirono

photograph (c) Mazie Hirono via

Sunday 7 November 2021


"Equality is not in regarding different things similarly; equality is in regarding different things differently." 
Tom Robbins

photograph via

Saturday 6 November 2021

Racist Racism: Complicating Whiteness Through the Privilege & Discrimination of Westerners in Japan

Abstract: With no anti-discrimination legislation, strong Confucian-inspired in-group mentality, and a belief in their mono-ethnicity, Japan is marred by a culture of widespread discrimination. Although it has ratified the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and guarantees equality in its Constitution, all those who differ from the closely-circumscribed norm are excluded culturally, and legally. Whites’ position in this milieu is complicated because of the West’s unique historical relationship with Japan, and due to the perception of white global dominance.

Although admired and arguably privileged over other outsiders, Caucasians are nevertheless mocked and discriminated against - openly, frequently, and with impunity. The concept of racism, as funneled through critical race theory’s (“CRT”) reliance on homogeneous white privilege, lacks dialectic space to address their experiences of discrimination. Yet both CRT analytical tools and desire for praxis, and Confucian respect for human dignity have much to offer in expanding discrimination discourse, exposing the concept of racism as Western-centric, supporting equality, and giving voice to victims who do not fit the victim norm. In the process, this enlarged theoretical and analytical space can help alleviate Japan’s labor shortage, prompting multi-faceted reforms, and achieving true Confucian harmony and democracy. 

I propose to create new discourse, situated within expanded CRT and whiteness studies, while providing analytical coverage to a group of Caucasians rarely mentioned in popular or scholarly literature. Definitions of “the other” and “white privilege” need to move away from monolithic notions of race and power, which are white-centric and racist themselves. (Myslinska, 2014)

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- Myslinska, D. (2014). Racist Racism: Complicating Whiteness Through the Privilege & Discrimination of Westerners in Japan. 83 UMKC Law Review 1, link
- photographs by Issei Suda (Japan in 1970s) via and via

Friday 5 November 2021

Women's Workplace Equality Index

The World Bank's report from 2018 presents data on 170 gender inequalities in legal treatment in 189 countries. In a second step, the World Bank scored countries on a list of fifty legal gender inequalities, the Council on Foreign Relations added an additional six for reasons of completeness and calculated a ranking of countries (scores 0 to 100) (via)

Five highest scores:
Australia (94.9), Canada (94.5), New Zealand (93.6), Spain (92.9), Mexico (92.8)

Five lowest scores:
Yemen (24.2), Syria (27.7), Qatar (29.8), Sudan (30.3), Iran (31.2)

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photograph (women attending the Women in Politics Conference, Canberra, 1975) via

Thursday 4 November 2021

Wednesday 3 November 2021

My great-grand-aunt Hattie McDaniel

I was at home contemplating the story about HBO Max temporarily pulling “Gone With The Wind” from its schedule, a 1939 film that included my great-grand-aunt, actress Hattie McDaniel. Suddenly, my disgust was elevated because it reminded me of the treatment she received from Hollywood and society. Her story was among the countless horrors from slavery to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We are talking about the destruction of millions of Black people, their families and their communities, and this is still happening in the current year of 2020.

In my own family, McDaniel, who won an Oscar for her performance in “Gone With The Wind,” was one of the many prime examples of this systemic mainstay of horror. Her parents, Henry and Susan McDaniel, were born into slavery. Henry, a Civil War veteran, was denied his military pension for decades after sustaining permanent injuries during battle. He continued to work tough labor jobs even in his diminished capacity. Susan also was motivated by her older, performing siblings (Otis, Sam and Etta) and longed to be on the road with them entertaining the masses. A young, impressionable Hattie inherited their work ethic and that drive catapulted her to success.

After her Oscar win, Hattie was still forced to play a maid or servant by Hollywood in film after film. Her goal was to survive as well as entertain, but she desired equal treatment just like everyone else in the world. She served her country as the chairman of the Hollywood Victory Committee (Negro Division) during World War II to entertain the troops and help sell war bonds.

Yet when she sought out better roles in Hollywood, they were not available to her. Her wish to be buried at the Hollywood Memorial Cemetery alongside her peers was rejected because of her skin color.

She and other Black cast members were not allowed to attend the premiere of “Gone With The Wind” in Atlanta in 1939. When she bought a home in the West Adams district in Los Angeles in the 1940s, her White neighbors formed a “restrictive covenant” against her and other minorities to remove them from their homes because they were Black. America has always looked at us as subhuman.

Beyond my family, the trans-Atlantic slave trade — which included slave-trading participants from Portugal, Italy, Denmark, France, Spain, England, the Netherlands and North America — sold Black bodies like cattle by the millions, and millions more were killed in the process. (...)

The Civil War (over 600,000 dead White bodies) was a war over who (and who did not) have the rights of ownership of Black people. The countless rapes of Black women. There were scores of White Christians (children included) buying food and drink as they were entertained by the hanging of Black men and women in trees. You have probably seen the photos, which can only be described as sheer horror. And there they were on display with broken necks, bodies limp and lifeless, battered, set on fire, and covered in blood from the gaping bullet holes from the target practice. And today, we are still witnessing similar executions such as the ones George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others have experienced.

I have spoken with the staff and/or leaders of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the Motion Picture & Television Fund, the Rocky Mountain Public Media/PBS, Turner/HBO Max and others. Organizations are donating money to the NAACP, but that is not the answer. One solution is to make sure every city in this country regardless of ethnicity has the proper infrastructure and economic inclusion. The process will be uncomfortable (as it should be) for those who harbor a hatred and guilt they cannot reconcile.

This nation’s tragedy is that our very existence in America is the evidence of a crime and the most constant theme of Black existence in America.
Kevin John Goff

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photograph via

Tuesday 2 November 2021

Because you are beautiful and I never want to forget you.

Donna Gottschalk is a US-American photographer, according to an exhibition curator, "the most famous lesbian photographer". In the 1960s, she attended the High School of Art and Design where, for the first time, she met other lesbians. That way she got to know iconic bars in New York where they had a space of their own. She became involved with the Gay Liberation Front and took part at protests, designed posters and papers, documented radical lesbian life, their struggle to be seen and represented (via). She also rent a spare room to young lesbians offering them a safe place to live (via).

Many of her subjects lived "on the margins of the margins": poor, transgender, homeless, sex workers, addicts, survivors of abuse (via). And many of them died young. Years later, she decided to release their photographs because she did not want "these courageous lives to be lost. They were brave and defiant warriors who insisted on being, whatever the consequences" (via). She also posed for other photographers at a time it was dangerous to come out (via).

I got my first camera at 17 and discovered all of these noble, marginalised people who were entering my life. I forced myself to become brave and ask to take their pictures, Sometimes they asked me why and my answer always was: “Because you are beautiful and I never want to forget you.” Donna Gottschalk

Gottschalk was inspired by Diana Arbus, Irving Penn and August Sander who were all drawn by the marginalised. Her intimate portraits were a means to give these marginalised people she loved "a beauty in humanity they were otherweise denied" (via).

The people that I was taking pictures of were not people that, ordinarily, people thought to photograph. They were my personal friends and family. Donna Gottschalk

"I had a portent that most of the people that I was taking pictures of wouldn't live, wouldn't make it. They were poor. There were no safety nets, At the time, in the 1970s, (my work) wasn't happy-happy stuff. It wasn't what people wanted, I think, or needed. The lesbian community needed to see (that) we're not all miserable; you can thrive." Donna Gottschalk

"I'm very happy, very much so, because many of the people who are photographed in that show... these are people who just disappear. And I am so happy that they're going to be in a museum for the rest of the time that the museum exists." Donna Gottschalk

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photographs by Donna Gottschalk via

Monday 1 November 2021

Sleep Disorder

Sleep and sleep disorders have gender-specific features. However, gender bias in medicine has led to women often not being diagnosed or misdiagnosed of primary sleep disorders as depression (via). There are still "significant knowledge gaps in research and a lack of awareness among the research community" for the need to account for the biology of women but also for gender differences in the way symptoms are reported (Mallampalli & Carter, 2014).

Studies of insomnia show a female predominance (via). Compared with men, women are at 40% increased risk for developing insomnia, they also show longer sleep latency (number of minutes it takes to fall asleep), more sleepiness, complain of poorer sleep quality. The male to female ratio of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in the community is 2:1 and 8:1 in sleep clinics. This discrepancy can be interpreted as the tendency to understudy and undertreat women for OSA. Other sleep disorders show similar patterns (e.g. sleep behaviour disorder with a men-women ratio of 2:1 in the community and 6:1 in sleep clinics) (Mallampalli & Carter, 2014).

- Mallampalli, M: P. & Cater, C. L. (2014). Exploring Sex and Gender Differences in Sleep Health: A Society for Women's Health Research Report. Journal of Women's Health, 23(7), 553-562, link
- image via