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March 10, 2019 at 12:45 pm #4756
Whilst only really mentioned in passing during our discussions, one of the things that was eye-opening to me was the contextualization of the militarized police as a foreign invading power. Up until then, in my ignorance, I had struggled to separate the indigenous struggles at Standing Rock and elsewhere from environmental protests and whilst I was always aware of the ways in which the DAPL prioritized profit over the ecological (including human life), to think of it as a renewed attempt to colonize, oppress, and potentially exterminate indigenous people for capitalistic “progress” helped me relate it to the issues and struggles I had more awareness of and traditional alignment to.
As a result of this, I believe it would be erroneous to view Standing Rock as anything but fundamentally intertwined with other instances of foreign oppression such as those we see in Palestine, those we have seen in the north of Ireland, those the Catalan and Basque peoples of Spain continue to face, those occurring in Venezuela as we speak, and countless other examples the world over.
I was, therefore, pleased when I found this photo with reference to the shared experience of Palestinians and the indigenous peoples at Standing Rock and across the country.
- This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by TORRIN HOYNES.
March 4, 2019 at 10:53 am #4651
For the photo share this week I decided to take a still from the highly publicized #MeToo inspired Gillette ad campaign. Whilst much of the criticism that was leveled at the advert came from men claiming it to be a perpetuation of “anti-male stereotypes”, I do believe there is room for criticism from a progressive perspective too.
In a way that mirrors the Nike advert we watched in class on Friday, Gillette (in response to their market share dropping from 70% to 50% and research that suggests the young people react more favorably to advertising with a socially responsible message) released a new ad campaign that attempts to sell products by using the #MeToo movement with no actual reference to the movement itself or any pledge to support the very real and difficult struggle for social change. It attempts to purport the notion that one good man is ultimately needed to save women and children from the threat of toxic masculinity. And while there is obviously a need for men to call out other men,it denies the extent to which toxic masculinity and misogyny are ingrained in our society across racial and economic lines.
In its failure to mention its own boardroom culture and perpetuation of the “bad apples” narrative, Gillette should not be free from being questioned over its ultimate motives even if ostensibly the output is “on the right side of history”.
February 23, 2019 at 1:14 pm #4243
One of the things that stood out to me most about our discussion of the #BlackLivesMatter movement was the degree of internationalism that I was, admittedly, previously unaware of. In this internationalist stance, that the M4BL describe as knowing “our liberation is tied up in the liberation of all oppressed people here and around the world”, we can not only see a continuation of the philosophies of Malcolm X, MLK, and the Black Panther Party but we can also begin to understand the increasingly ramped up levels of oppositional press coverage and resistance from white elites.
Just as it was when Malcolm X had returned from his pilgrimage to Mecca and subsequent visits to recently liberated African nations that he was murdered; and just as it was that MLK was assassinated following his anti-Vietnam war speech and support for workers rights at the Memphis Sanitation Strikes; and just as it was the Black Panthers’ oppositional force to the Vietnam war and US imperialism worldwide that led Hoover to describe them as the “most dangerous” of all civil rights organizations, is how it is when we see black progressive leaders vehemently opposed when they stand in solidarity with Palestinians.
Angela Davis, Marc Lamont Hill, and Ilhan Omar have all been accused of anti-semitism in a way that tries to “mute independent Black political voices that are connected to communities across the country and abroad”. In what Norman Finkelstein would call an “abuse of history”, actual internationalist opposition to anti-semitism (and the violences that come with it) is being misused by those seeking to protect US and Israeli foreign and domestic policy from criticism. With the photo attached and the statement that accompanied it, we can see the M4BL’s continued dedication to internationalism in the face of criticism that has caused many others to shy away – in this we can see true power and the potential for real change.
February 13, 2019 at 4:48 pm #3988
For this week’s discussion, I wanted to centre so-called gangster rap that was mentioned a few times in class. For this purpose I chose an image of MC Schoolly D – the original gangster rapper. His 1985 release “P.S.K What Does It Mean?” is widely considered the blueprint of gangster rap and this is why I have chosen this picture when it could so easily be a picture of Ice-T, Big Pun, Big L, Eazy-E, Mobb Deep etc.
The reason I wanted to consider gangster rap once again is because I feel that in most conversations, including the one we had in class, there is a degree of what I would consider snobbery when people think about this sub-genre of hip-hop (apologies if that sounds like I’m attacking anyone). There should always be room for criticism – particularly in relation to elements of homophobia and sexism that can be prevalent – but I have found that traditional criticism of gangster rap often contains aspects of classist language and assumptions within it.
When one finds themselves growing up in particularly dangerous or otherwise socially deprived areas you soon realize that traditional means of asserting status in our capitalist society (e.g. monetary success or academic achievement) are not available to you in the same way which can often lead to a sense of powerlessness that may manifest itself in various widely-reported ways. What gangster rap and other objectively aggressive forms of music can do is provide a sort of alternative or hyperbolic reality where one reclaims their power through expression – this has been explored more fully with heavy metal music and the way that it applies power to supernatural or occultist symbols as a way of reclaiming power that regular society denies listeners and performers. This has been outlined by scholars such as Ryan Moore in his book ‘Sells Like Teen Spirit’. This to say that, profane and violent lyrics and personas expressed through some rap music are not necessarily a conformity to stereotype but rather the only viable means that artists and listeners may find it in themselves to create a vision of the world where we are something other than scum.
The violent words are not about the violent acts but rather the power it gives to those who identify with it and the power it has over those who fear them.
In the words of Schoolly D – “P is for the people who can’t understand”
Source: David Corio/Getty Images
- This reply was modified 1 year ago by TORRIN HOYNES.
February 3, 2019 at 3:18 pm #3701
With the Black Against Empire reading in mind, I have chosen a photo of the iconic Free Derry Corner located in Derry in the north of Ireland. The mural seen in the foreground of the photo has historically been, and remains to this day, a literal embodiment to people the world over of the need and value of not negotiating with oppressive states but rather refusing to authenticate and acknowledge them for anything other than the illegitimate occupying powers that they are. I can see parallels here between the ways that Irish Republican communities came to “police themselves, for themselves”, becoming no-go zones for the police and armed forces of the British State in the process, and the Black Panther view of black communities as colonies and the US police as an armed branch of an occupying power.
In the mural’s acknowledgement of both Palestinian struggles and the Ferguson protests, I also see it as evoking the sentiment behind Huey Newton’s statement that “there is a great similarity between the occupying army in Southeast Asia and the occupation of our communities by the racist police.” In this sense we can begin to see not only the natural internationalism of freedom struggle but the integral nature of said internationalism. I feel that this can also be seen to be reminiscent of Richard Aoki’s stressing of the need to know oneself in order to be of any use for anyone or anything. Through this mural we can see the value of this in action – only by knowing why it is that Catholics and Irish Republicans are oppressed in the north of Ireland can we begin to have true solidarity with the oppression that Palestinian peoples face at the hands of the Israeli State or the oppression of black and brown peoples in the Americas.
Photo by Giuseppe Milo, taken on January 4, 2015
February 3, 2019 at 2:46 pm #3692
My photo for this week pertains to a very specific part of the Black Against Empire reading and, in turn, the questions we came to discuss on Friday.
I have chosen an image of the iconic Free Derry Corner located in Derry in the occupied north of Ireland. The mural in the foreground always was, and remains to this day, a rather literal embodiment for people the world over who subscribe to the philosophy that an occupying government is not to be reasoned with but instead be rejected as the illegitimate force that it is. I can see parallels between the ways that Irish Republican communities came to “police themselves, for themselves” (becoming no go zones for police and armed forces of the British State) and the way that Bloom and Martin describe the Black Panther ideology concerning Black communities as colonies and there being a fundamental need for self-policing.
The mural, as edited at the time of the Ferguson unrest, also evokes the sentiment behind Huey Newton’s observation that “there is a great similarity between the occupying army in Southeast Asia and the occupation of our communities by the racist police”. By containing reference to both Palestine and Ferguson, in addition to the struggle in the north of Ireland, in the mural we can see how the struggle against true oppression is not only an internationalist one in ideology but also one that is contingent on addressing inequality everywhere.
In this same vein there is also something to be said about Richard Aoki’s statement about the knowing of oneself before we can be of any use to anyone or anything. I feel that, as Aoki suggested, this awareness of international parallels and willingness to be a good ally for the right reasons (as illustrated by the mural) ultimately comes from a knowing of one’s own struggle – only by knowing why it is that Catholics and Irish Republicans are oppressed in the north of Ireland can one begin to find true solidarity with Palestinian peoples facing oppression from the Israeli State and the black and brown peoples in the Americas.
Photo taken by Giuseppe Milo. Taken on January 4, 2015
- This reply was modified 1 year ago by TORRIN HOYNES.
January 27, 2019 at 5:14 pm #3535
While perhaps diverting from the theme of the week, I have chosen a picture that I feel relates to the concepts of being an adjacent figure to, or perhaps rather a non-conventional manifestation of, the civil rights movement as we assume it to be. In attempting to do so, I felt that Chester Himes is a figure that embodies that role as someone we do not see at rallies, marches, or even making infamous speeches but whose work is nevertheless concerned with and a powerful force for the advancement of the downtrodden. Himes, whilst an intellectual influence on near all black writers (including Baldwin) that followed him, was himself rather revolutionary in the way he wrote about issues concerning African-Americans, women, the labour movement etc. His book Lonely Crusade perhaps is the best example of this radical nature to his work that, while controversial even among elements of his readership that it attempted to represent, is an influential text in the intellectual wing of the movement for African-American advancement. However, what could be deemed most significant about Himes (and what drew the most praise from Baldwin) was his ability to transcend the restrictions placed on black writers hoping to be published – the way he employs allegory in Blind Man with a Pistol deceived many into believing it was little more than a detective story whilst working as a sort of secret message about the struggle to those who were primed to listen. This pragmatic maneuverability laid the foundations for those who would follow in both the literature world and the wider world of civil rights struggle.
Photo: Alex Gotfryd/Corbis
- This reply was modified 1 year ago by TORRIN HOYNES.
January 18, 2019 at 3:27 pm #3105
Beyond the personal sentiment I may have for any photograph of Malcolm X in the country of my birth, I feel that this particular photo is a rather powerful one when we view it through the lens of the Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism that Malcolm X came to embody in his final years. The very fact that Malcolm X travelled to a small town west of Birmingham, England just to be in solidarity with the black and Asian population who had just seen their local election won by a man whose campaign slogan was “if you want a n****r for a neighbor, vote Labour (the opposing party)” is, to me, a visual manifestation of his lamentation of the limited scope of calling black and brown people’s struggle for equality a “civil rights struggle” rather than a “human rights” endeavor. In this sense, this photo works to represent the ways in which Malcolm refused to rely on “the jurisdiction of Uncle Sam” and thus hints at the thing that made him too dangerous to be allowed to continue. In my opinion, there is a real significance to the fact that this appearance in England and separate descriptions by African leaders of Malcolm X as a sort of re-embodiment of Patrice Lumumba preceded Malcolm’s assassination by just a few days or a few months respectively.
Photo Source: mirrorpix (Birmingham Mail)