Entries Tagged 'Africa' ↓

#gXd: Hip-Hop Allows Artists To Express Diversity And Uniqueness. But How Did These Become Values In, And Qualities Of, The Culture?

One of the hardest aspects to understand about any phenomenon is why it is the way it is.

Take, for example, the United States. It’s commonly held that this is a country which values individualism. As opposed to celebrating the person who dutifully does what his family or community says and wants, as some cultures do, we hail the white guy—it’s typically a white guy, right—who “bucks the trend,” “goes against the grain,” takes the path less chosen,” “innovates.”

The Iconoclast. The Rebel. In some societies, these are figures of outrage. But, here, they are seen as absolutely, quintessentially American.

But why?

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“What You Hear, Kemo Sabe?”: Does Avatar Merely Revive Old Movie Stereotypes of the “White Savior”?


James Cameron’s Avatar has been hailed for its medium-busting visual effects and astounding commercial success. Since its release on December 18th it has repeatedly topped the box-office in multiple countries, and is now the highest-grossing film in history, having taken in nearly $1.9 billion worldwide.

But, underneath the breathtaking graphics and lifelike performance capture, does the story of Neytiri and Jakesully, above, just retell the story of a white person finding himself by “going native”? Is it merely a fable about Europeans who would take over non-white people, save for the leadership of a Caucasian guy who leaves his reprehensible, bloodthirsty tribe, in order to cast his fate with the natives?

Avatar has famously been compared to Kevin Costner’s Oscar-winning, 1990 work, Dances With Wolves, which also raised similar charges regarding the consistency of the “white savior” myth. Disney’s Pocahontas has also been i.d.-d as Avatar‘s spiritual predecessor, though, perhaps no more pointedly than in these two YouTube clips, the first of which remixes video from Avatar to audio from Pocahontas‘s trailer, and the latter which does the reverse.

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

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Today, this afternoon, Friday, April 25, at 2 pm ET, on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, my guests are:

Rebecca Keegan, author of The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron;

Dr. Mikhail Lyubansky, a professor in the psychology department of Psychology at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign. He authored “The Racial Politics of Avatar: Part 1” and “The Racial Politics of Avatar: Part 2” for Psychology Today‘s web site;

Dr. Raymond A. Winbush, author of three books on race issues, and director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University. His post, “Avatar, Africans and Racism: Some Brief Reflections on James Cameron’s Tale about White Supremacy,” appears on his blog, Reparations for Enslavement and the Blackside of Things.

They’ll talk about Avatar, race, and these issues, with the goal of giving listeners some clarity on them.

chrismatthewsBut first: After the President’s state-of-the-union address this past Wednesday, Chris Matthews, right, of MSNBC’s Hardball fame, opined that Obama “is post-racial, by all appearances. I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.”

I’ll talk with Jesse Washington, race and ethnicity editor for The Associated Press, and author of the essay, “Do Blacks Truly Want to Transcend Race?” about what Matthews meant, and what it means for Obama and our national understanding of the subject.

You can hear these thoughtful individuals’ ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

Black is Beautiful.


I didn’t know the name or work of Nollywood actor Genevieve Nnaji, above, before today’s rebroadcast of Oprah‘s “Meet the Most Famous People in the World” episode. But I’ll be looking for the 30-year-old’s films in 2010. Consider that my New Year’s resolution.

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Looks Like the Ruler’s Back: Sade’s Next Album Out In Three Months.


Hallelujah! Kids, hear this: The immaculate chanteuse, Sade, announced on her web site today that

The highly anticipated new body of work from SADE Soldier Of Love, will be released WORLDWIDE on February 8, 2010.

The cover, shown above, appears to portray the artist from the rear, in Spanish garb. She’s wearing a couture black-and-silver backless silk dress, pale pink roses in her hair, and large silver hoop earrings, as she overlooks the ruins of Teotihuacan in Mexico.

sadeHelen Folasade Adu, 50, right, leads a namesake group with three instrumentalists. The band has sold over 50 million records, since the release of their debut album, Diamond Life, in 1985.

The upcoming release, her sixth studio work, continues the artist’s prerogative for near decade-long gaps between albums.

Love Deluxe (1992) her fourth CD, was released four-and-a-half years after Stronger Than Pride, her third.

But Lover’s Rock followed eight years later, in November 2000. Soldier of Love‘s February delivery will place it at 9 1/4 years since the Nigerian-Britlish song stylist’s previous work, and less than a month after her 51st, January 16 birthday.

No word on singles or track listings yet, but, hey, believe me: We can wait.

The Simpsons Go Blackface?: In Ad For Their African Edition, Homer, Marge, and the Kids MASSIVE FAIL.


The Simpsons is America’s longest-running sitcom, with 441 episodes shown since 1989. (Their 20th season begins next month.)

But for their upcoming debut on Africa’s digital satellite television service, DStv, an Angolan ad agency decided to give the saffron-colored family a “makeover.”

6a00d8358081ff69e2011570465543970c-800wiThose are the results, above, says the UK’s Telegraph: “Brown skin instead of their usual yellow,” right.

As the publication details:

To make them appear more like a typical Angolan family, Marge has also been given a black Afro hairstyle instead of normal blue bouffant, while Lisa’s hair is stood up on end in short braids.

The image also shows the family dressed in clothes bearing traditional African designs and they are all wearing flip flops.

To be clear, this change was not made to the actual animation, but to print advertising being shown in the broadcast area.

Will Angolans be offended? Actor Kirstie Alley once told me that African-Americans…are “more free and fun and light hearted” than white people. Did she mean Africans, too?

Let’s hope so, and let’s trust they won’t be put off, here, by dumb, cloying marketing at its worst, and, in so doing, avoid what’s still a very funny show.

China: You’re next.

[via alltop.com]


Meeting the lion again.

I absolutely have no patience for white people who try befriending dangerous, wild animals, not only because the animals never get to negotiate these arrangements—except with claws—but more because I view such efforts as seated squarely on the continuum of white arrogance.

However, in this clip, these two men attempt to re-introduce themselves to a male lion, in the wild, that they’d befriended earlier, after he had acquired his own pride and mate. Take a look at what happens.

What Next?

Gates, wistful….

On July 1, 2008, Bill Gates, above, stepped down from full-time work at Microsoft Corporation, the company he founded with friend Paul Allen in April 1975. How does his departure affect the now-and-future direction of this corporate behemoth, a company whose software runs over 90% of the world’s computers, with assets of over $70 billion, and whose market capitalization approaches a quarter of a trillion dollars?

This is the fundamental question Mary Jo Foley provocatively addresses in her new book, Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era. Foley is a guest, today, on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, November 7, 2 pm ET.

Then, Alisa Lagamma, curator of a show running at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End,” will talk about the exhibition and the wide universe of visual materiel the continent’s cloths present.

You can hear their ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, you can check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, check out our archive for up to two weeks after broadcast.

Here’s Something Else They Could Have Done with the $700B Bailout: Saved Africa. Twice.

“Uh…we could use some help here…hello?”

Chances are this will never make the TV news: According to an estimate by Eric De Place of Sightline Daily, “every cent of Africa’s crushing debt” could be retired for $350 billion. (The sum was actually estimated at $320B by the U.N. in 2003, so De Place just adds another $30 billion to make a round number. It could be higher, or lower.)

Now, that would leave $350 billion. Working from this figure, De Place then states,

You could install solar panels on 20 million American homes for $300 billion. …

We could install ground source heat pumps for 5 million American homes for $50 billion.

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You Look Simply Divine.

“I’m gonna have a hell of a time getting this dry-cleaned.”
Affianwan, Calabar South, Nigeria, 2005 (Photo by Phyllis Galembo)

Photographer Phyllis Galembo burrows deep into what she calls “the transformative power of costume and ritual” by shooting large-format chromes of revelers and worshippers in remote parts of Nigeria, Haiti, and other Caribbean and African countries.

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“A shame, the way the poor Africans are starving…[sigh]…such a shame. I hope we can help them in some way. Now, what will it be: The supreme of chicken with stuffed thigh, nuts and orange savoury and beetroot foam, or will I have the milk-fed lamb flavored with herbs and mustard, and roast lamb with cepes and black truffle? Does a Chambolle-Musigny go with lamb? And what are we going to do about the poor starving Africans?”

“Maybe I can share my milk-fed lamb with the Africans, mommy!”

According to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, via The Huffington Post, world leaders, meeting in Japan on Monday to solve the global food crisis, stuffed themselves stupid at an 18-course banquet, below, specially prepared for the meeting, calling down, no doubt inaudible, worldwide outrage. (“Meanwhile back at the Vomitorium” stabbed The Daily Kos. “Crumbs from the rich nations’ table” dripped the capitalism-giddy, sherbert-toned Financial Times.)

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