The African Gaze

Amy Sall: This course is an exploration of post-independent / post-colonial visual culture in Africa (from the late 1950s onward). We will be looking at the ways in which artistic expression in the form of African cinema and photography engendered discourses concerning identity, power, and self-determination.

Colonial photography deprived Africans of agency, rendered them voiceless and classified them as subaltern. In colonial photography, African people were subjected to a physical positioning and gaze
which took away their autonomy and allowed western viewers to perceive them as primitive.

African photographers and filmmakers from just before independence and onward (and in some cases even earlier), were able to reclaim this power and allow their communities to see themselves as they were, and explore their social, economic, and political conditions from their own perspective.

Drawing from key texts to frame our discussions, as well as important works from influential African photographers and filmmakers such as Malick Sidibé, Seydou Keïta, Ousmane Sembène, Souleymane Cissé and others, we will identify the ways in which The African Gaze was instrumental in reclaiming power, visibility and dispelling colonial myths. More here.

How to Dismantle White Supremacy

Barbara Smith: As I thought about the possibilities of the Hamer-Baker Plan, I realized that there are already innovative strategies that would be effective in alleviating the day-to-day consequences of structural racism. Here are some that come immediately to mind. The Nurse-Family Partnership pairs first time, low-income mothers with visiting nurses who help families get a healthy start and work toward economic stability. The Harlem Children’s Zone offers wraparound programs for children, from birth through college, assisting their families to overcome poverty and ensuring their academic success. Cure Violence (formerly CeaseFire) uses a highly effective public health model, including violence interrupters, to end gun violence. The Green New Deal recognizes that environmental devastation disproportionately affects communities of color and that interventions in these communities need to be a priority. It also would be a source of thousands of new infrastructure jobs. Medicare for All would address racial health disparities resulting from the lack of access to affordable quality health care. The severely disproportionate impact of Covid-19 upon communities of color shows the pressing need to establish health care as a human right.

Currently, initiatives that focus on inequality in specific sectors like education, health care, and criminal justice are not aligned with one another, are seldom brought to scale so that they have maximum impact, and may not operate with the conscious goal of challenging white supremacy. The Hamer-Baker Plan would close these gaps and encourage integrated approaches.

For example, if quality education were a priority, there would be an understanding that stable, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, access to excellent, affordable health care, and minimal exposure to trauma are all critical components of children’s educational success. A holistic approach could make it possible for America to have a robust social safety net for the first time, benefiting people of every background.

[…] It would be groundbreaking for Hamer-Baker to use an intersectional approach based on the fact that misogyny and heteropatriarchy are integral to the functioning of white supremacy. The plan would consistently take gender, gender expression, and sexuality into account, and create solutions to address the specific impact of racism upon the lives of women, transgender, and queer people of color. New York’s Audre Lorde Project exemplifies this approach. Founded in 1994 as a community organizing center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit, trans, and gender-nonconforming people of color, it has been centrally involved in the fight against police brutality and in coalitions for racial, gender, social, and economic justice. More here.

The Perils of “People of Color”

E. TAMMY KIM: Rejecting the term “people of color” may be of little consequence, but rejecting the solidarity it implies can result in an inaccurate and unduly limiting world view.

As Margo Okazawa-Rey, a professor emerita at San Francisco State University who participated in the Black feminist Combahee River Collective of the nineteen-seventies, put it, “The history of this country is told from the East Coast,” thereby privileging the Black-white binary. This lens is foundational, and central to our racial imaginary, but it should not be the only one. The enslavement of Black people on this continent—and the caste system devised to maintain it—cannot fully explain the attempted genocide of indigenous peoples, a decades-long ban on Chinese immigration, the mass deportations and lynching of Mexican migrant workers, the crackdown on Arab and Muslim communities after 9/11, or our wars in the Philippines and Iraq. The wealth of the United States owes not only to slavery but also the exploitation of migrant workers and poor whites, and the theft of land and natural resources here and abroad. And although it is now common to attribute the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 solely to the civil-rights movement, its more proximate cause was the injunction of anti-Communist foreign policy.

Recognizing the various strands in the warp and weft of our history, alongside slavery and Black liberation, should be possible without unravelling the whole into “All Lives Matter.” This more complicated telling incorporates those who defy stereotypes of color and race: Black refugees, Samoans, biracial Arabs, Asian adoptees, and Latinx “immigrants” whose families have been in the Americas for centuries. The University of Connecticut philosopher Lewis Gordon, the author of “Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism,” told me that it’s crucial to be “precise about how American racism manifests” while understanding “that there were internment camps of Japanese-Americans, that there are reservations for indigenous peoples that were basically the inspiration for the South African Bantustans.” More here.

Review of A Thin Wall by @ind.igenous

Repost from @ind.igenous


Filmmaker Mara Ahmed’s documentary, ‘A Thin Wall’ is a haunting and thought-provoking account of the partition. Strung together are stories, memories and experiences of those who suffered, leaving behind what they called home, plunging into the unknown. Yet, like wilted flowers inside an old book, love still remains on each side of the border. The documentary reminds one of Zarina Hashmi’s art, of a constant search for home, and the pain of separation.
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Heard this powerfully evocative piece named ‘Never’ from a short memoir, ‘Six Snapshots of Partition’ by poet John Siddique in the film. Here it is for you to read:
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Faizal carries his wife in his pocket: she is a white handkerchief. Faizal carries his three daughters in his other pocket: three small stones gathered from the side of the road. Their names are lost to walking. His sons Mohammed and Rafiq flank him. They carry the memories of their sisters and mother in their silence. Faizal closed down his carpet shop three months ago; he misses his days bargaining at his counter. No one has told Faizal why India has changed – he is not one of those men who drinks tea and talks politics at night. Every time he meets a dead person he asks them what his wife’s name was. He asks and puts his hands in his pockets.
Zoom out and it looks like the whole of India is walking. Walking towards a blue line on a rough map drawn on to a napkin. Mohammed Siddique, my father, is a young man of seventeen years on the road from Jullundur to Lahore. He will never be a Pakistani, he will always be an immigrant – a series of questions which Faizal cannot answer.
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A Thin Wall is streaming now on @mubiindia
(Partition photo by Margaret Bourke-White)
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athinwall #documentary #partition #indiapakistan #lahore #delhi #puranaqila #border #indiadocumentary #johnsiddique

Human development professor dies following brief illness

two year ago, in november 2018, i was invited to screen ‘a thin wall’ at a conference on ‘weaponizing people: militarization and armed conflict in asia’ at SUNY Binghamton. lubna chaudhry was one of the organizers and my primary contact there. she invited me to a literary evening the night before the screening, where i met the brilliant Shane Carreon. we all went out to dinner at a wonderful thai place afterwards. she was kind and generous but a strong presence in that space. i could feel it. she was loved by her students. that too was obvious. originally from pakistan. only 54. may she rest in power.

“I admired Lubna as a scholar, but her activism inspired me,” Denise Yull said. “Lubna was a founding member of FARAB, a faculty collective composed of people of color from across the University who assembled to protest a climate of racism and indifference experienced by both students and faculty of color at Binghamton University. Lubna stood at the frontline against racial injustice at [BU], standing shoulder to shoulder with students and faculty of color. To honor Lubna, we have to continue standing up against systemic racism.” More here.

Professional Athletes Are Showing America Just How Powerful Labor Really Is

naomi osaka has also withdrawn from her upcoming semi-final at the western & southern open to join in the protests.

Dave Zirin: By exercising their power as workers, the players are inspiring an incredibly dormant part of the resistance to racism and Trumpism: the labor movement. If the NBA can shut down in protest of racist police violence, why not other industries? Why not cities? Why not entire sectors of the country’s economy? Strikes do not have to be about wages and benefits. There is a long, hidden history in this country of striking for human rights—“not just bread but roses.” It’s a history the players could help revive.

By striking, the players in the NBA, MLB, and beyond have brought their bosses to the table and launched a national conversation. More here.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib

The subcontinent is one of the most multicultural, multi-religious, multilingual, multi-ethnic parts of the world. It holds a multitude of histories, some of them unbearably painful, that we need to acknowledge and work through together.

Much is wrong in Pakistan, but this is a lovely picture.
Sikh pilgrims arrive at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, in March this year. Photo by @abdullahfarooqbajwa

Facebook Has Begun Purging Accounts Tied to Anti-Fascist Groups

i want so much to leave fb. for me, as an activist/independent filmmaker, it’s difficult to jettison my community/network here. but it’s becoming morally impossible to continue to use (and therefore support) such a reprehensible company. on top of the purging of anti-fascist groups as described in this article, their whatsapp is used widely to organize lynchings of muslims in india. that’s something they are ok with. people can do anything they set their minds to. why can’t we develop our own platform on the left so we can leave en masse. 

‘This is the first time a coordinated removal of multiple U.S. anarchist and antifascist accounts has happened on Facebook. In addition to It’s Going Down (IGD) and the CrimethInc Ex-Workers Collective, banned accounts include the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, which has organized some of the recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Portland, Oregon; Enough is Enough, a German anarchist news platform; various chapters of the John Brown Gun Club, an armed left-wing community defense group; a number of members of the anarchist think tank Center for a Stateless Society; and accounts for the radical musicians Sole, Time, and Calm (the latter two belong to freelance writer Chris Steele, who has been published in Truthout). News about more may emerge later.’ More here.

The Injured Body: Sady Fischer

Transcribing interviews for my new doc ‘The Injured Body’

Sady Fischer, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, describes her vision for a better world:

The first thing I would say is for everyone to get the term colorblind out of their vocabulary. We do see different races, different communities, different looks. There’s this Audre Lorde poem, it is my all-time favorite, and she says: ‘It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.’

[…] I tell people all the time, I want you to see who I am, I don’t want you to pretend that you can’t see that I’m female. I’m proud of being a woman. Don’t pretend that you don’t see that I am a Latina, I’m very proud of my background and my heritage. I don’t want you to pretend that I’m not a queer woman. People say, ‘I don’t even see you as that, I just see you as Sady.’ But I see myself as that. I’m proud of my partner, our household, our family and the community that we belong to. I want you to see all those things. What I don’t want is a value judgment assigned to any of it.

microaggressions #racism #LGBTQrights #womenofcolor #film #documentary #theinjuredbody #neelumfilms #microaggressionsareracism #microaggressionsarereal

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