Saturday 30 July 2022

Awkward Puppets: Racist Workout

"Hey Siri, play a workout video on YouTube."
"Playing hispanic music on YouTube."
"No, I said workout video."
"Googling how to make guacamole."
"I said workout video."
"Searching nearby Mexican food."

::: Awkward Puppets, Racist Workout: WATCH

The YouTube series "Awkward Puppets" was created by Rudolfo Mancuso in 2015. Diego is the main character (and played by Mancuso), Benita is his non-beloved wife, Sarah a racist feminist, Sam is Diego's friend, Twon a police officer, and there are the twins Carl & Carl (via).

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image via

Friday 29 July 2022

Ukraine (2020): Elderly Lives Frozen by Conflict. By Paula Bronstein.

"Ukraine has the world’s highest proportion of elderly affected by war. The ongoing conflict has a staggering human toll on the elderly. 3.4 million people depend on humanitarian assistance, and one third of those people are over 60 years old. 
In 2014, many young people left when violence broke out, while the elderly stayed behind, just barely surviving.

Ukraine’s elderly are trapped in a war zone, listening to the occasional bursts of shelling near the line of contact separating the Ukrainian government forces and the Russia-backed rebel forces. For pensioners who have exhausted their resources, economic difficulties add to the stress of daily life. 

Recent government measures led to hundreds of thousands of elderly losing their pensions (their only financial security). Caught in this bureaucratic nightmare, the elderly are forced to travel across eastern Ukraine, waiting in long lines to collect their pensions. Often reluctant to leave their homes and the last to flee from danger, they are left abandoned without resources of family care.

As a photojournalist for three decades, I examine under-reported human, economic and political issues to expose silent victims of conflict in a variety of war-torn countries. This series focuses on the vulnerable, fragile, elderly population in Ukraine that is frozen by conflict; trapped in a war, impoverished, and abandoned to survive in dilapidated homes."
Paula Bronstein, photographer

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photographs and (c) by Paula Bronstein via and via and via

Monday 25 July 2022

Time Banks and the Caring Currency

Fureai Kippu is the (inflation-free since credits are units of time) caring currency in Japan, obtained by those who take care of the elderly, spent by them when they are in need of care. Part of the inspiration came from Teruko Mizushima who launched the Volunteer Labour Bank in 1973. The premise of her programme: A "woman's autonomy fluctuates during ther lifetime." When childbearing and childrearing, she needs to borrow time from others while in later motherhood, she might have additional time. Mizushima proposed a system of depositing and withdrawing these resources (Sugiyama Lebra, 1984).

Time banking is a concept based on reciprocity that ensures providing and receiving services in a community. It creates social interaction and (re)connection to communities and by doing so helps maintain physical and mental health, makes sure that vulnerable and isolated elderly people can be reached, provides active life in retirement, reduces costs of the health care system. Regions or cities for instance in Japan, China, Taiwan, Switzerland, and the United States have already introduced it.

Retired persons volunteering provide a few hours of service to help the elderly which ranges from accompanying them to hospital, dog-walking to bringing meals.  All services are equally valued (Valor & Papaoikonomou, 2016). By volunteering, people earn and bank in the hours of credit which can later - when old - be used to purchase services from others. In other words, time is banked and used when needed (Ng & Fong, 2019). This approach means contributing to the "Big Society" with an ageing population (Harashi, 2012), contributing to the well-being and empowerment of the community. Time banks are social innovation (Valor & Papaoikonomou, 2016) and might change the image of older persons (Sultana & Locoro, 2016).

In Hong Kong, time banks are changing society from a recipient to a participant one. In 2017, a welfare counciel launched a three-year-banking project in one of the districts aiming to promote elderly to support each other and to improve relationships with neighbours (Ng & Fong, 2019). It developed globally in the 1980s and in the UK in the late 1990s (Gregory, 2014). In the past years, more and more time banks emerged in Spain (Valor & Papaoikonomou, 2016). 

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- Gregory, L. (2014). Resilience or Resistance) Time Banking in the Age of Austerity. Political Science Journal of Contemporary European Studies, link
- Harashi, M. (2012). Japan's Fureai Kippu Time-banking in Elderly Care: Origins, Development, Challenges and Impact. Political Science, link
- Ng, T., Yim, N. & Fong, B. (2019). Time banking for elderly in Hong Kong : current practice and challenges. CAHMR Working Paper Series 2(1).
- Sugiyama Lebra, T. (1984). Japanese Women. Constraint and Fulfillment. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
- Sultana, T. & Locoro, A  (2016). No More Throw-away 'Elderly' People: Building a New Image of Ageing via a Time Accounting System. In Markus Garschall, Theo Hamm, Dominik Hornung, Claudia Müller, Katja Neureiter, Marén Schorch, Lex van Velsen (Eds.), International Reports on Socio-Informatics (IRSI), Proceedings of the COOP 2016 - Symposium on challenges and experiences in designing for an ageing society. (Vol. 13, Iss. 3, pp. 35-42), link
- Valor, C. & Papaoikonomou, E. (2016). Time Banking in Spain. Exploring their Structure, Management and Users' Profile. Revista Internacional de Sociologia RIS, 74(1), link
- photograph by Dorothea Lange via

    Monday 18 July 2022

    Single Fathers: A Growing and Neglected Population

    The number of single-parent families is rising and most of them are headed by single mothers. Nevertheless, single fathers represent a sizeable proportion and are both a growing population and largely understudied since research on single parenthood mostly focuses on single mothers, their greater risk of mortality, poorer self-rated (mental) health and lower socio-economic status. "What do we know about these fathers, and their health and wellbeing? Alarmingly, the answer is: not very much."

    40.000 people (single and partnered fathers, single and parthnered mothers) took part in the Canadian Community Health Survey. Single fathers - after a median follow-up of eleven years - were more likely to die than single or partnered mothers or partnered fathers. Their mortality risk was more than two times higher than other parents'. Single fathers were also more likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles (eating fruit and vegetables, binge drinking).
    Interestingly, the study could not determine the leading cause of death. This might partly be due to the fact that there are differences in the pathways leading to single parenthood. Single fathers, for instance, were more likely to be separated, divorced or widowed compared to single mothers. The latter could point to grief and a specific stress exposure. Gender stereotypes, stigma and social support usually more availabe for single mothers may be further factors. 
    We need to take single fatherhood much more seriously as a public health issue. Understanding the way families have evolved and are likely to evolve is crucial to meet their needs and for policy planning. Families do not exist in a vacuum. They depend on the social and economic environments around them. Issues of isolation (real or perceived) and grief may be as important for health as traditional risk factors. We need to ensure that there is better community and social support for single fathers. Social and life circumstances of single parents are crucial to getting the fuller picture of their health. (via)        
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    - Editorial (2018). Single fathers: neglected, growing, and important. The Lancet, 3(3), link
    - photograph of Robert Redford with his daughter Shauna, 1969 via

    Friday 15 July 2022

    The City Without Jews

    "The City Without Jews" (1924) is a satire about "a terrible possibility that became horribly real" some years after being published, a film about anti-Semitism foreshadowing nazism and one of the "most prophetic, provocative films of the 20th century". The book was written by Hugo Bettauer (1872-1925), a Jewish Austrian labelled an "Asphaltliterat", a term Joseph Goebbels used during the book burning in 1933 to refer to literature that was considered to be too urban and not patriotic enough. In 1925, the Nazi Otto Rothstock (1904-1990) shot Bettauer five times. Bettauer died sixteen days later as a result of the shooting and Rothstock, who defended the assassination as a patriotic attempt to protect so-called German culture from the menace of "degeneration", spent a few months in prison and less than two years in a psychiatric clinic before being released. In 1977, Rothstock boasted in an interview of being responsible for Bettauer's "extinction". 

    Hans Karl Breslauer (1888-1965) directed the film and changed some parts of the book. For instance, Vienna became Utopia aiming to avoid problems with censorship.

    The movie is about a city resembling Vienna in which failing economy leads to rising anti-Semitism and the Jewish population being scapegoated. Finally, a law based on fear, prejudice and populist rhetoric is passed expelling all Jews from the city. Only a decade later, the Third Reich turned this fiction into haunting fact and atrociously killed millions of children, men and women (via and via and via).

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    photograph of Hans Moser via

    Tuesday 12 July 2022

    Bird Names for Birds

    "Bird Names for Birds" is an initiative launched in 2020 to change names of birds named after people "because birds don't need eponymous or honorific common names". The initiative knows that it "will not end racism" but sees itself as "one step" to raise awareness. Some examples...

    Long-tailed Duck
    The prior name of this bird was “Oldsquaw” – a derogatory and offensive name that references a certain sound made by a group of elderly Indigenous groups chattering. A proposal outlining this issue and reasons supporting a new name for the bird was accepted, however the reasoning for the name change was due to conservation implications and explicitly stated that inclusion reasons were not the motivating principle. (literally via)

    McCown's Longspur (rejected proposal)
    John P. McCown accidentally collected the longspur while out shooting birds. He was not an ornithologist and is given the note of being the first to collect a specimen due to known dates of notes. It was George N. Lawrence who formally named the bird after McCown. While Lawrence named this bird intentionally for the first person to collect a specimen, he also unintentionally named this bird “…after a man who fought for years to maintain the right to keep slaves, and also fought against multiple Native tribes.” As stated in the proposal, “John P. McCown, previously of the U.S. Army, joined the Confederacy and fought for the right of states to preserve slavery. He was not a minor participant in the war, but a mainstay; he participated in an array of campaigns and led men into battle. Although John P. McCown did not join the Confederacy until after his name was attached to the longspur, he likely held views of slavery consistent with his decision to join the Confederacy. With the United States general public increasingly embracing our diversity and confronting public displays of the Confederacy, such as flying Confederate flags, using Confederate general street names, and maintaining statues to Confederate soldiers, it is appropriate for the AOS to address its own piece of Confederate history, John P. McCown of McCown’s Longspur.” (literally via)

    Bachmann's Sparow
    At first read, the life of the Reverend John Bachman (1790-1874) seems quite admirable. An ordained minister who spent 56 years serving his flock at St. John’s Lutheran in Charleston, South Carolina, he had a passion for science and natural history. He was regarded by some in the South as radical for ministering to enslaved people, and for his argument that all humans were the same, unified species, rather than separate. He was elected as an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1845, and corresponded with many of the other leading naturalists and scientists of his day.

    But this seemingly progressive outlook is only surface level. The reverend may have been a proponent of the unity of humanity in a single species; he was certainly, however, not a proponent of equality among it. A slave-owner himself, he saw no issue with holding fellow humans in bondage, even as he acknowledged their humanity. He vigorously denied that a belief in the oneness of humanity necessitated becoming an abolitionist, and sought to provide both scientific and religious reasoning for slavery within his framework:
    “We are induced yet to offer a few remarks on the bearing of the doctrine of the Unity of the Human Race on the domestic institutions and vital interest of the South…those who have supported the doctrine of Unity, have sometimes been stigmatized as Abolitionists and enemies of the South…[t]he following are our views: That all the races of men, including the negro, are of one species and of one origin. That the negro is a striking and now permanent variety, like the numerous permanent varieties in domesticated animals. That varieties having become permanent, possess an organization that prevents them from returning to the original species, although other varieties may spring up among them. Thus the many breeds of domesticated animals that have arisen, some only within a few years, would never return to the form of the wild species, without an intermixture. That the negro will remain as he is, unless his form is changed by an amalgamation, which latter is revolting to us. That his intellect, although underrated, is greatly inferior to that of the Caucasian, and that he is, therefore, as far as our experience goes, incapable of self-government. That he is thrown to our protection. That our defense of slavery is contained within the Holy Scriptures. That the Scriptures teach the rights and duties of masters to rule their servants with justice and kindness, and enjoin the obedience of servants.” (literally via)
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    photograph of Audrey Hepburn by Terry o'Neill via and via

    Wednesday 6 July 2022

    Nine Years. Nine.

    Nine years and still so much to write about. Nine years and so happy that you are there, still interested in diversity and its beauty. Nine years, 9.992 followers, 13.558.835 views, 1.330 blog postings... Thank you so much for following, commenting, sharing your thoughts, for just dropping by. And, nine hugs from a distance. Andand, it is written on the sunny sky with nine clouds seen from this very pool with more than nine ladies that there shall be at least another nine years "Diversity is beautiful". Thank you again.

    photograph via

    Sunday 3 July 2022

    Chuck Berry is Black

    "You’re trying to say, ‘Is Chuck Berry black or white?’ Well, I’ll tell you, Chuck Berry is black, and he’s beautiful."

    “When I first heard Chuck Berry. I didn’t consider that he was black. I thought he was a white hillbilly. Little did I know he was a great poet too." Dylan, 2015
    "I mean, people that never seen it, after the record come out and such a big hit and we went on this tour, not knowing — you know, never seeing a picture or nothing of Chuck, they mistook it that Chuck was white. And we would walk out on the stage, there'd be a lot of ohs and aahs and whatever because he's a black man playing hillbilly music." (via)
    The song "Maybellene" had sort of melded the black and white identity and made listeners believe Chuck Berry was white. Berry, despite being popular, did not always make it as far as the stage. One night early in his career in Knoxville, Tennessee, he was turned away by the club's manager who was shocked to see his skin tone and explained: "It's a country dance, and we had no idea that 'Maybellene' was recorded by a Negro man." Letting Berry perform would be against a city ordinance, he continued. So Berry listened to a white replacement band playing his music (via and via).

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    photograph via