Tag Archives: racism

Remember Oluwale 45th Anniversary incl #VirtualMigrants performance – Sat 3rd May 2014

45 years since David was found dead in the River Aire. Please help promote and come to our fundraiser for a memorial garden next saturday at Left Bank Leeds 3rd May with Virtual Migrants, Angel Of Youths, DJ SaIQa, Nigerian Community Leeds, street food, stalls, raffle + more.

Remember Oluwale 45th Anniversary Fundraiser – Saturday 3rd May 2014

http://www.rememberoluwale.org/david-oluwale/fundraiser-saturday-3rd-may-2014/

PROFILE PIC FOR FACEBOOKPOSTER_VERSION_1604 BANNER FACEBOOK

Advertisements

The cuddlification of Black revolutionaries

To erase the political bedrock of people’s beliefs from the telling of their history is to distort their life’s work.

claudiaJones_HG2123_19

This is a CROSS-POST by Jenny Bourne, Institute of Race Relations; the original is at:
http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-cuddlification-of-black-revolutionaries/

The rewriting of history and reputation to chime with what the white-media-middle-class is ‘comfortable’ with does not just apply to Nelson Mandela,[1] it has for some years been applied in this country to Black revolutionary Claudia Jones too. After an almost complete neglect of her reputation from her solitary death in 1964 to Buzz Johnson’s 1984 book, I think of my mother: notes on the life and times of Claudia Jones, she has gradually become better known, her history reclaimed[2] and her contribution acknowledged beyond Britain’s black community. There are now two plaques commemorating her in London, in 2008 she made it onto a postage stamp (admittedly for Black History Month) and now it is rumoured that a biopic is under discussion by film executives. But the more revered and mainstreamed she has become, the more her genuine political talents and commitments have been slowly revised, cleansed and repackaged to meet contemporary fads.

claudiaJones_cb16-1-26_prev

Claudia Jones was a staunch revolutionary. Her Communism, which for the most part, bound her (as it did her comrades) to following the Soviet line, informed everything she believed – her internationalism, her anti-colonialism, her stand against ‘colour bar’, her view that (when she became a Maoist) ‘women held up half the sky’ and so on. Read her speeches, her articles in the West Indian Gazette; examine the company she kept, such as that of partner Abhimanyu Manchanda. Under McCarthyism she was deported from the USA in 1955 and arrived in Britain because Trinidad and Tobago, her homeland, then under British rule, did not want her back.

To provide this backdrop is not, in any way, to detract from her tenacity and her achievements but rather to set them in their right context. For just as Mandela is now celebrated for his forgiveness and generosity of spirit – in a Christian saintly tradition – Claudia Jones, too, is celebrated in a similar vein. She is revered now for her contribution to Britain’s multicultural vivacity – via the Notting Hill Carnival. But today’s Carnival has very little to do with what she began in 1959 or why. She suggested a kind of spirited celebration with calypso to remind West Indians of home, and it was held in a town hall. The reason was to wash the taste of the racism of the anti-black riots of 1958 ‘out of our mouths’. Similarly, she is embraced now as a leading feminist. But her ‘feminism’ was about the emancipation of the ‘Negro woman’; for her the personal was not the political – rather the political was personal. She should not be read out of her time, put on a liberal pedestal to please contemporary palates. Claudia Jones was tremendously industrious, influential and majestic – a political icon and role model if ever there was one. But she also ran fashion pageants (the sort of beauty shows derided by feminists within a decade) and advertised hair straightening products in her paper. That was her time.

Just as in the case of Nelson Mandela, one can hazard that her greatness and strength were honed both through the hardships she underwent (including incarceration, deportation, poverty and ill-health) and the discipline and rigour of party politics. It was in the party that she began to analyse, write and to organise. She did not believe, as Mandela did not believe, that capitalism (like apartheid) would just roll over and die – it would take long and concerted revolutionary struggle. To erase the political bedrock of people’s beliefs from the telling of their history is not just a monstrous distortion of their life’s work, but is also a very bad political lesson for those trying to change the world in their wake.

A cultural-political-arts project on climate imperialism

There are some incredible and devastating predictions for the future levels of displaced people due to climate change.  A recent issue of Forced Migration Review (#31) began to map out these issues in a useful way yet when you look at the range of articles you are left with a sense that this field is struggling to gain a proper framework; a question for a group like ours is on the role for UK artists with an initial UK audience in response to this, and its relationship to other political positions regarding refugee and migrant issues.  Issues of resource depletion are directly affecting many originating lands of diaspora communities but the immediate pre-occupations of anti-racist and migrant groups seem to have left them forever on a back-burner.  The potential urgency such communities could bring to the debate could be enormous.  This project challenges us as politically engaged artists to disentangle, reposition and debate these pressing realities in a public forum.

This blog has just been set up by Kooj from Virtual Migrants (www.virtualmigrants.com), for The Centre Cannot Hold, a non-limited project about Climate Change and Imperialism.

There is a keynote paper by Kooj Chuhan, titled “Tolerating Mass Murder”, outlining our starting points for this investigation.  You can read it HERE – comments/discussions are welcome.

An outline of the first stage of this project, currently focused at The Arnolfini in Bristol (UK), is as follows.

The Centre Cannot Hold (part 1)

by Virtual Migrants

 

Installation with performances and direct dialogues exploring climate imperialism

THEME / SUBJECT

The project will explore two critical, under-developed, poorly represented and inter-related areas:

(a)   the ways in which Climate Change is a continuation of imperialist processes that have been active for a few hundred years.  Destruction of human beings along with their environment on a large scale is nothing new, and climate change is perhaps the most sanitised way in which ‘third’ economies will be decimated by the omnipresent culture of greed led by the first economies.

(b)   The perceptions of migrant, ‘third sector’ and diaspora people and groups in the UK, particularly of activists, and their counterparts in ‘third’ economies of the world.  Active engagement of such groups with climate change particularly in the context of imperialism and racism appears to be embryonic at best, because of other continually pressing issues which are always of higher priority such as more direct racism, immediate survival and resistance.  The potential of such groups beginning to discuss such narratives and forming linkages around such issues could be significant.  Integrating with perspectives on class inequality and poverty is also critically relevant.

These areas are difficult, and this project will not pretend to be able to create work that is conclusive within this timescale.  Rather, Virtual Migrants intends to continue this exploration and discussion over the next few years, with work being produced at various intervals of which the exhibition and events at the Arnolfini will be the first landmark stop on this journey.

FORM – aesthetics

The work will focus on the aesthetics of words, spoken and written, with an emphasis on immediacy and direct connection with the source of those words.  Activists will be speaking directly about current situations, ideas, thoughts and activities as a part of the presentations.  We want to minimise the amount of interpretation which artists would normally introduce to such work, and allow such non-performers and non-artists to become a part of work with integrated cultural, aesthetic and political meaning.

There are many examples across the world throughout history where popular consumption of words, both of their depth of meaning as well as of their beauty, has been an essential part of cultures which can more easily be critical and engage in discussion.  Our approach is to encourage directness, anti-packaging, and active engagement with rather than passive consumerism of such narratives.

We intend to use musical and digital visuals to create audio-visual environments that reflect both historical and contemporary sensibilities, rhythms, and contexts in which these direct narratives can be enriched.  These will inevitably be simple and complex at the same time, and will continually change and evolve during the period of installation.